In my last blog, I talked about how we live in a disposable world.
With the surge in plastic in the last 50 years, a lot of durable things got replaced by single-use items that cost very little and are much handier. I mean, I totally get it. Instead of washing up a pile of plates and glasses after a party, you can just sweep them into the bin and you’re done. Instead of sitting down and waiting for your coffee to cool, you can just have it on the go in a smart paper cup. If you get hungry or thirsty, it’s dead easy to buy a bottle of water and a pre-packed sandwich. Convenient and easy. There is a little catch though.
This catch is that although we think that we are throwing these things away, there is no ‘away’. They all end up back where they came from – around us. In the form of waste piling up in landfills. Recycling helps, but still, I am pretty sure the best way forward is to avoid throwing things out at all as much as we can. That’s the principle of Zero Waste after all!
You might think that avoiding one paper cup won’t save the world and I agree. On the other hand – ideas spreading by chain reaction is a well-documented and totally real thing!! You might just give it a go and in the meantime inspire enough people to actually make a difference…I definitely think it’s possible…:)
Getting myself to use less single-use items was easier than I thought. Yes, it might have taken me some time, but with some planning it definitely wasn’t impossible! Instead of getting plastic-wrapped lunch in the shop every day, I just had to start bringing my own lunch in, complete with a stainless steel bottle and an apple bought in the fruit bulk aisle.
It is really not hard but, I warn you in advance, preparing your own food may mean some extra work. You might spend some time cooking batches of legumes, chopping veggies, assembling your creations and polishing apples but – it’s so worth it and it feels great! And yes, there will be days when you just won’t have that time. Yesterday, for instance, I had to either buy my lunch in a nearby shop or be hungry. Disclaimer: I am not very nice with low blood sugar. So, a sandwich wrapped in a foil-lined paper for me. Not cool, I know. But I have my limitations. Packed lunch today though 🙂
One thing that really gets on my nerves are the pesky half-litre plastic bottles for drinks. You buy it, drink it in less than half an hour and then throw it away. OK, in some cases, you can reuse it once or twice. But it always ends up in the bin. Oh and if it’s not a sweet fizzy drink but healthy water, you should realise that it’s basically just tap water. Filtered, perhaps, but basically tap water. It took me some time to get used to bringing a proper bottle with me everywhere (I usually realised that I forgot it as soon as I got the bus) – but I got there.
In two specific places it saves me a good bit of money. The cinema and the airport. Over-priced drinks are second nature for these two. If I travel anywhere, I take my stainless steel bottle (empty through security control) and the then either fill it in the bathrooms or just ask in one of the airport cafes. I’ve done this many times and I always felt like I outsmarted the system :))
Take for example plastic straws. I won’t say much but if you still use them and you haven’t seen the video below, watch it and you will stop. (Warning: it’s not a pretty sight). I am a responsible adult and can consume my drink directly from a glass. Really.
It can become fun to look around you and see if there are any more ‘quick fixes’. I don’t drink coffee but if you do, you could try bringing a travel mug to the coffee shop next time. Equip yourself with some confidence, like you do this aaaaall the time and ask them to pour your brew into the Garfield travel mug. Yes, that one that is sitting at the back of your press and it’s just waiting for his star to shine! I guarantee you one of every two staff will say ‘no problem’, and the other one will look at you quizzically and then say ‘ok, no problem’. Be a trend-setter. Be creative. It’s fun!
Can you think of anything else that you can do or have already averted or swapped in your daily life? Leave a comment below!