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Plastic-free July: 7 ‘R’s to a plastic-free lifestyle
July 8, 2020
Everyone is familiar with the golden rule of 3 ‘R’s in sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This formula is supposed to help us reduce the waste we produce. But to do actual introspection about our everyday products – where they come from and where they end up – we need to go above and beyond these 3 ‘R’s.
“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
We are overwhelmed with countless reasons why we need to rethink our lifestyles, society, and economy. Reasons such as:
millions of tonnes of indestructible plastic are entering our environment every year;
plastic has now infiltrated in every corner of our food chain, and;
we are learning about the increasing health risks like hormone-related diseases we face the cause of plastics.
Small acts, little introspections, and a gradual change in action are all that is needed to bring long term change that will give us a chance to save ourselves & our planet. This is why we need to revise the 3 ‘R’s of sustainability. Here are the 7 ‘R’s we need to live by:
Every choice we make, every product we buy, and every activity we choose to do determines our planet’s future. Rethinking is perhaps the most important ‘R’. It starts with taking a step back and looking around our home and lifestyle, tracing our steps. Most of the things around our house are made of plastic: from carpets and sofas to plastic ingredients in our personal care products. If we were to audit our garbage bins and starting calculating the waste we individually produce, it is enough to serve as a shock. Collectively we have produced waste that will outlive our generations to come.
It’s time we rethink what we are buying, its impact on the environment, and if we need to keep buying new things. We need to start educating ourselves and the people around us about the footprint our goods have. Looking for better solutions, package-free options, and getting your concerns heard are some of the things you can do. Let your favorite brands and shops know you want plastic-free options and support local solutions trying to make a difference. When buying new things always remember that…
“every dollar you spend or don’t spend is a vote you cast for the world you want to live in.”
is as easy as to say ‘No!’. We do not need the straws in our drinks, we do not
need a new plastic bag every time we go shopping, and we do not need to-go cups
for our coffees. Refusing single-use plastics is one of the easiest things we
can do to stop our oceans from chocking with plastics.
Going a step further, refuse products that contribute to microplastic pollution, which is almost irreversible. Once the microplastics are in the environment, they are impossible to clean up. Refuse to buy cosmetics & detergents with plastic ingredients, refuse to buy synthetic clothes that shed microfibers, refuse to accept products, and polluting brands.
plastic-waste is a challenge, a challenge that is worth taking on. It takes
pro-active actions that help us to reduce waste consciously. That means
changing the convenient “throw-away living”.
Wanting to reduce all the plastic in our lives at once can be overwhelming and demotivating. Starting small and slowly building up to reducing plastic waste is the way to go. My Little Plastic Footprint app does just that; it puts people on a plastic diet by providing +100 tips from one of the following six areas of our life: bathroom, kitchen, leisure, travel, home, and garden.
Reuse & Repurpose
We all acquire and collect things throughout our lives, be it clothes or containers of small things: remember the classic grandma cookie box? There are so many items like that around our house that we can repurpose and upcycle and give them a new life. Reuse the jam jars to store different things, don’t throw the cans, grow herbs in there, or simply upcycle your old clothes into tote bags. It cannot be simpler; all it needs is a bit of inspiration and imagination; theinternet is full of it.
Reuse is not limited to reusing objects at home. It also means investing in good quality products you will use for years, for example, buying a reusable bottle or tumbler that will help you avoid single-use plastic bottles and cups. The list goes on, here are some other ideas to swap single-use plastics for long-lasting alternatives.
The biggest drawback to our convenient throw-away living is that we have stopped to give things a second chance. It’s always easier to buy new stuff than repairing the existing ones, be it clothes or electronics. Before we throw-out an item, let’s consider the ways it can be repaired or repurposed. Our planet is abundant, but the resources are not going to last forever. We need to value the things we buy and make the most use out of them.
of us think that if we recycle, we are doing our bit of sustainability. While
it is the way to go for paper, aluminum, and glass, when it comes to plastics,
only 9% of all plastic in use worldwide is recycled, and the majority of this
recycled plastic is of inferior quality. Unfortunately, as of now, we cannot
recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis. This is the reason why
recycling is so down on this list.
That being said, we should strive to recycle what can be recycled. Recycling collections and programs differ around the world, from cities to neighborhoods. For optimum recycling of your plastics, check the packaging well to see if they are recyclable or not as not all plastics can be recycled. Make sure to clean the plastics that you put in the recycling bin as contaminated plastics are hard to recycle. Also, please do not throw your recyclable plastics in a plastic bag, it is essential that you throw them item by item in the recycling bin instead of putting the entire bag in.
Plastic takes forever to degrade, pollutes our environment, and harm animals along the way. Removing plastics doesn’t only mean you throw them away; you can also do this as an act of change. Take part in clean-ups such as the World Cleanup Day, take part in making this world a little bit cleaner, and support the organizations fighting for the cause by spreading awareness, education, and fighting for policy change.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Each and every action that we make has an impact. Our choices define the future of our planet. Now, more than ever, we need to think and choose for the security of our home. These 7 ‘R’s do not only provide tools for reducing our plastic footprint, but it’s a philosophy to live by.
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