If you read my previous post, you know that the events of the past few weeks did not make it seem very important to write about plastic free living. I think this pandemic and recent protests and the general state our country is in, truly takes the focus off another crisis we are dealing with: the climate crisis. Sometimes it seems there are too many issues to tackle. But then I came across this article that immediately motivated me to keep researching and keep writing about a plastic free life.
What is plastic rain?
Have you ever heard of plastic rain? The title of the article caught my eye and I knew that I was not going to read about something exciting but about something rather alarming.
Since I am hoping that you are going to read this article yourself, I won’t summarize everything, but I would like to outline a few facts that struck me and are quite shocking on one hand but also not surprising on the other:
- Microplastic particles are tiny parts of plastic stemming from broken down plastic bottles and microfibers from clothes.
- These microplastics get into the Earth’s atmosphere and spread out through wind and rain even throughout the most protected wilderness areas.
- Scientist, who took samples of rainwater in 11 protected areas in the western US, were able to figure out that 1,000 metric tons of microplastics spread each year in those areas. This is equivalent to 120 milion plastic water bottles and refers only to 6 percent of the total area in the US.
- Plastic waste is expected to increase from 260 million tons a year to 460 milion tons by 2030.
Let all this sink in for a moment!
What happens to all the plastic that we use?
Plastic never truly disappears. It gets broken down into microplastics which are spreading all over the world on the ground and into the oceans in form of plastic rain. There is so much plastic in this world that we even breath in tiny particles that are in the air.
How could this affect the health of human beings and animals?
Scientists are still studying the potential effects on humans and animals of inhaling microplastics, but some articles that I looked at suggest that potential chemicals could be released through microplastics that could have harmful health effects such as cancer, reproductive problems and a weakened immune system. But there is still much to be researched and a lot of studies haven’t been published yet. What is known is that microplastics are starting to affect certain animal’s health.
What can we do as individuals?
I am not laying out these facts to spread worry and panic. I am laying out these facts to make people aware. If you are shocked by the numbers, I think you should be. In one of my very first posts, I wrote about the harmful effects that plastic has on the environment and our climate. And I think it just emphasizes the general message.
I am laying out these facts to emphasize over and over again that our plastic consumption has become a huge problem and, if nothing drastically changes, it will get worse.
In fact the issue is so big that, realistically speaking, one person’s change of behavior will not make a big difference. The fight to save our planet has to happen on a larger scale through government regulations. And that is true. However, I strongly believe that every single one of us has a responsibility towards our planet and the future of our kids.
That’s why I started this blog and that’s why I am writing a post, once again, about small things you can do to reduce your plastic consumption. Change always starts with us!
Here are my personal tips on what to use instead of plastic that include easy changes anyone can do. Maybe you can choose one tip a week, or one tip a month and try it out, see how you like it, how difficult it is and whether it seems worth spending your money differently or enduring a small inconvenience. We are a society of conveniences and I strongly believe that that is part of the problem. So, give it a try and don’t give up easily. I think we owe it to ourselves, our future, and all the other living creatures on this planet to start acting.
1. Stop buying plastic water bottles: Now I know a lot of people already carry around their own water bottle, but I still see a lot of plastic bottles everywhere and they are especially used for bigger gatherings. Why? Because it is convenient. I think it is possible to always remember to carry around a water bottle and it is possible to find another solution for plastic water bottles. I believe they should be banned altogether.
2. Say no to plastic bags and not only at the grocery store: The best way is to get in the habit of bringing your own bags or invest in a couple of reusable bags. Plastic bags at grocery stores are easier to avoid than plastic bags in other stores, for example clothing stores. They put everything into plastic so quickly and automatically, it’s sometimes difficult to say no. I think, and I have done it many times, it is fine to politely decline and even make them take it out again, so you can use a different bag. Just as water bottles, I believe that plastic bags should be banned.
3. Avoid pre-cut fruits and vegetables that come in huge plastic containers: We simply don’t need them. Try to buy from bulk stores or the local farmer’s market (although they often offer plastic bags as well) as much as possible. Use these simple mesh bags to put your produce in during a grocery run.
4. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes: Personally, I am a big fan of electric toothbrushes, so I admit that I have not tried a bamboo brush, but I know they are becoming quite popular. And once my electric tooth brush stops working, I will definitely try them. You can get 8 for $10.
5. Say no to plastic straws: Please, please, please avoid plastic straws if at all possible! I wrote an entire post on what to do instead. There are lots of alternatives. Straws made out of metal, paper or bamboo. I personally like the metal ones, but my son thinks it makes things taste differently (I don’t). I am working on convincing him that that is not a big deal, but there are other options as well.
6. Try shampoo and conditioner bars instead of buying shampoo in plastic bottles: Here is one I use and love and it’s one of the cheaper options, but there are many, many others and I am planning a seperate blog post on reviewing some of the other ones.
7. Instead of plastic wrap start using beeswax wrap, use reusable conainers or simply cover left overs with another plate: I stil have plastic wrap in my house, but I only use it on occasion if there is truly nothing else. Beeswax wrap works great for most things!
8. Consider switching to a menstrual cup: The post I wrote about it a few weeks back will show you that I am a huge proponent for menstrual cups. I believe they make a women’s monthly cycle better and easier and they safe money and waste. There are many options, but this one, for example, I can recommend.
9. Switch to reusable cotton make up pads: Say no to disposable make up wipes and instead consider giving these reusable cotton wipes a try. They can easily be tossed into the weekly laundry.
10. Avoid fast fashion and consider purchasing second hand clothing or invest in some ethical brands whose clothes last for a long time: This is a topic that will take a lot more research, but I wanted to point it out anyways. I am planning a future post on all things clothing and fashion and the toll it takes on the environment. Did you know that the fashion industry is considered the second largest polluter? Stay tuned for more info on this to come very soon!
Reducing our plastic intake is about awareness, saying no, and reusing the things we already own. And then, if we need to, we can invest in a few things that make using less plastic much easier. I encourage you to give it a try!
As always, I welcome any questions or comments in the comment section below and would really appriciate it if you could share this post on your social media channels. Thank you for taking the time to read my post!
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