9 Easy Ways to Go Plastic Free: A Zero-Waste Beginners Guide
The plastic crisis is one of the most significant challenges our planet is facing. After decades of society being dependent on plastic, it’s time that we take responsibility and make a shift towards a plastic-free lifestyle. Instead of treating this change as a challenge, we should see it as an opportunity to move towards a circular economy.
What's the Problem with Plastic?
It’s no understatement that we live in a plastic world. Plastic is detrimental to the environment on every level - from polluting oceans and destroying wildlife and ecosystems, to filling landfills for decades without decomposing; plastic has calamitous short term and long term effects on our planet.
Plastic pollution is a global environmental crisis - at this stage, our planet is drowning in plastic and there’s no other option but going plastic-free right now. Below are some scary vital facts:
By 2050 there could be more pieces of plastic than fish in the sea
10% of the plastic we use yearly end up in the ocean. That’s equivalent to 700 billion plastic bottles
More plastic has been produced in the last 10 years than during the whole of the last century
The average human eats 70,000 microplastics each year
So, What can we do to save our Planet from Plastic?
Here at Be Alam, we’re total advocates for completely eliminating plastics from our lives - but we also understand that it can be very difficult to get it 100% right and that baby steps are needed for all of us to get there. If you’ve ever asked yourself “how do I go plastic free?” or “how can I be more sustainable?”, you’ve come to the right place. Although it seems impossible to avoid plastic entirely, there are small steps that you can take to limit your plastic use and start living as sustainable as possible (ASAP).
Every small action makes a difference, so to help you get started here are 9 easy ways to start living a plastic free life:
- Plastic Free Shopping: Use Reusable bags
Did you know approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags are used each year by shoppers worldwide? Always take your own shopping bags to the grocery store or shops - this step alone will eliminate your use of single use plastic bags.
Plastic free shopping is difficult, but not impossible - we wrote about our first attempt at plastic-free shopping in Bali here. You can also check out our eco friendly yet stylish market set here to fulfil your sustainable shopping needs.
- Use non-plastic containers.
I know it may seem convenient to just chuck food in a zip lock bag or disposable plastic containers, but it’s simply not the zero waste approach. There are many other plastic substitutes like glass jars, glass food containers, or even reusable wax sheets like the Gir Wax Wraps.
A zero waste kitchen is a great place to start for your plastic free journey. Check out 1millionwomen’s awesome tips for a zero waste kitchen.
Bonus Tip: It’s a good idea to have different sized containers to accommodate all the different types of food you’ll be storing.
- Identify which plastic products you use/buy most often.
Create a list of products that you purchase made from plastic or contain plastic, and start to find plastic free substitutes. This is a great step towards a zero waste lifestyle. WWF has written a great post on the worst single-use plastics and eco-friendly alternatives.
Bonus Tip: When looking for plastic free alternatives, keep an eye out for products with eco-labels or have environmentally friendly features such as being biodegradable or compostable.
- Bring a reusable bottle around with you.
Less than 30% of plastic bottles are recycled - meaning too many are ending up in our landfills and oceans. One of the best things you can do for the environment is to stop using plastic water bottles! Bring your own bottle when you’re on the go - we need to stop making excuses like “it’s inconvenient to carry” because it really isn’t.
Bonus tip: If you’re regularly buying takeaway coffee, invest in a reusable coffee cup that you can bring around with you. Our boreal set is the perfect duo to fulfil your on-the-go hot or cold coffee needs.
- Cut out frozen meals.
One of the worst culprits of excessive plastic packaging waste comes from frozen meals. When you cut these out, not only will you be eating healthier, but you’ll drastically reduce your plastic consumption.
- Carry around reusable utensils and straws.
Plastic cutlery isn’t easily recycled as recycling machines can’t sort them due to their shape, so most end up in landfills and take centuries to break down. Plastic cutlery and straws also accumulate incredibly quickly, so imagine the favour you’d be doing for our planet if you brought around reusable utensils and straws with you.
- Make your bathroom a plastic free environment.
If you think about it, your bathroom is quite literally plastic galore - shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and hand soap are all stored in plastic bottles; even your loofah sponge and toothbrush are plastic. Think about how much less plastic waste you’d contribute by switching to plastic substitutes such as shampoo/soap bars, natural loofah sponges, biodegradable toothbrushes - the sustainable options are truly endless.
Here’s a blog post we’ve written on zero-waste bathroom essentials.
- Buy refills for your laundry detergent and cleaning products.
11% of household waste is plastic! Instead of buying new cleaning products that come in plastic bottles, start purchasing refills for your cleaning needs. Say you use 3 different cleaning bottles a month; that's 36 bottles a year that you don’t need.
- Educate yourself: Why is going plastic free important?
Do your own research on the damage that plastic waste does to our planet, and join communities of other link-minded people who refuse to participate in the grotesque plastic waste that's polluting our oceans and landfills. It’s up to us to make a change - we shouldn’t wait for government bans on plastic items or for corporate plastic polluters to act more sustainably.
Also read: Is it difficult to be zero-waste?
So, now that you’ve reached the end of our super easy guide to a plastic free life, our plastic rehab program is the perfect starter kit to help you begin your zero waste journey. Remember, don’t be so hard on yourself as you start - learn from your experience and start again. Good luck!