With a new year comes new year’s resolutions. I have really been thinking about what other ways I can help the plastic free movement, and how I can encourage others to do the same. It certainly isn’t easy to go plastic free – it’s virtually impossible to buy something at a store that doesn’t have some kind of plastic packaging. But I really believe it’s become an integral part of our culture, and it’s up to us to change it.
I know it can feel extremely daunting. You might feel – why does it matter if I refuse 1 plastic straw? Millions of other single use plastic straws are going to end up polluting the oceans, anyways. But it DOES matter. Because it’s a conscious decision to refuse that plastic straw, and the more often we make those decisions, the more it will become part of our culture.
So! One step at a time, right? Maybe you can choose just one thing from this list to work on this year, maybe you’re already doing several of them. Regardless – know that every choice you make to be plastic free – makes an impact.
Here are some simple ways to help the plastic free movement every day!
1. Refuse single-use straws.
Plastic straws are a big one, and it’s easy enough to get your own reusable straws to carry with you. Remembering to bring them with you is another thing entirely – but the more often you do it, the more it will become a habit! Locally Edmonton owned Project Straw (now called Earth Rebel) has beautiful stainless steel straws with a myriad of carrying cases to choose from. Life Without Plastic is also a great source for reusable straws, like this set of 4 stainless steel straws with a carrying case. I have to admit that although stainless steel ones are the easiest to carry without fear of breaking, glass straws are still my favourite, like these ones from Life Without Plastic. If you want something that is truly good to the earth, bamboo straws are awesome because they will break down naturally at the end of their life.
2. Refuse single-use cutlery.
Plastic cutlery is still very common these days, even though there are a lot of compostable alternatives. Carrying your own cutlery set is super easy to do, and there are so many easy options! There are also so many places where you can get beautiful cutlery sets that won’t damage the environment. I have seen people make a little cutlery pouch by sewing a few straight lines on a tea towel to make little pockets, then they can just put in whatever cutlery they have. Or you could get this stainless steel spork set or bamboo utensil travel set from Life Without Plastic.
You could also carry cutlery and straws together with a set like this one!
3. Stop using plastic wrap.
There really is no way to recycle plastic wrap, even if you tried to wash it. And now that beeswax wraps are around, there really is no reason to use plastic wrap at all! Many people make their own beeswax wraps; in Edmonton, Earth Rebel (formerly Project Straw) also offers them singly or in sets. You can also get rolls of beeswax wraps from Simpatico Makers (one of my past favourite green things!) so you can cut them to the size that works for your dishes! The first ones I used were the Abeego brand from BC (which I purchased several years ago and am still using the same ones!).
4. Stop using single-use plastic bags.
If you don’t like the cotton type, these mesh ones are made from recycled plastic PET bottles!
Places like Bulk Barn, Blush Lane Organic Market in Edmonton and Calgary, and Earth’s General Store in Edmonton allow you to bring your own containers and bags to fill, so you don’t need to use single-use plastic bags to buy in bulk. Life Without Plastic has these lovely cotton bags you can use if you don’t want to be encumbered with jars or containers.
Reusable grocery bags are also very easy to find; many companies give them out for free with their branding. If you have trouble remembering them to bring them with you, get a couple that fold up nicely to keep in your bag or purse.
5. Bring your own reusable bottle or cup.
Plastic bottles and disposable cups are some of the top offenders in plastic pollution in Canada. We are now seeing that many single-use water bottles are NOT getting recycled. Not only that, it takes so much energy and resources to recycle them that it really doesn’t make sense to continue to buy them. Get your own reusable bottle instead. I love the LAMOSE plastic-free, all stainless-steel bottles we have, but if you have a Swell one, or any other kind – use it!
The same goes for cups – if you need daily doses of caffeine, try to use your own reusable cup instead of disposable cups. It was found that Tim Hortons was named one of the top plastic polluters in Canada – because their supposedly paper cups are lined with plastic, making them impossible to recycle. Just imagine how many Tim Hortons cups you see in garbage bins – they will never break down!
These are simple ways to help the plastic free movement, and while they might seem like no-brainers, I know it’s harder to do that it seems. Going plastic free will take a huge shift in our society’s mentality. Each one of us can start that shift with each choice we make, each time we remember to take our reusables with us. And each one of us can share these choices with those in our circles and encourage them to do the same!
How do you help the plastic free movement?
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