Once upon a time, we lived in a plastic-free world. Believe it or not, that time wasn’t too long ago. The kind of plastics we use in everyday products like toothbrushes and hosiery only started appearing in mainstream society in the 1930s. Plastic bags were not a grocery staple until the 1980s! In just a few decades, society has become so addicted to the convenience of plastic that we can hardly envision a life without it. Truth is, we all need to reduce our use of plastics if we want to see our waterways and our natural parks outlive us. To prolong the camping experiences you love, try these smart ways to stop using so much plastic
PLASTIC BOTTLES AND BEVERAGE CONTAINERS
Plastic bottles are the epitome of plastic pollution. We see them everywhere, on the side of the road, at the beach, in parks. Invest in a stainless steel or glass thermos. Some come built-in with water filters if you’re concerned about water purity. Get a thermos just for your to-go coffee as those plastic lids will outlive you. Most coffee shops are happy to put your coffee in a tumbler or thermos. Of course, ditch the plastic straw for a stainless steel one. Be sure to tell your waiter, “no straws,” at the top of your meal.
The grocery plastic bag didn’t appear in society until 1979 and since then they have been accepted as commonplace in our everyday routine. Hawaii and California have led the movement on entirely banning plastic bags. Take responsibility into your own hands by using reusable bags. Or keep bulk cardboard boxes in the car and put them in your grocery cart before heading in the store. Then use them later to haul your food to the car–no bags needed.
Cut down on packaging pollution by looking for glass or cardboard packaged goods. Opt for liquids in cartons, tortilla chips in paper bags, eggs in paper cartons, and peanut butter in glass jars. Buy coffee in bulk and store in paper bags. And for the love of the environment STOP USING K CUPS! Even the inventor of the K-cup regrets the idea.
Perhaps worst of the plastics are the ones we use once but continue to live on for centuries. Toiletries are a considerable perpetrator of single-use plastics. Instead of buying bottles of shampoo and conditioner, try making your own. DIY shampoo and conditioner are better for the environment, your hair, and your health. Instead of liquid body wash, opt for bar soap. Invest in an electric toothbrush, rather than the throwaway kind that only last a few months.
Saving leftovers may be avoiding waste, but it’s not environmentally friendly if you’re take-away is made of styrofoam. Store leftovers in aluminum, wax paper, or these awesome silicon Ziplocs. If you love takeout or delivery, try asking your restaurant if they can use paper-based take-out containers. Restaurants don’t want to lose your business, so your voice matters.
A majority of the microscopic plastic floating around in North American waters is from synthetic fibers shed from clothing. Even if a company is making fabric from “recycled water bottles,” it may be doing more harm than good. The pulverized plastic still sheds from clothing and is small enough to be ingested into fish, jeopardizing the food chain. So what can you wear to help the environment? First, stop buying new clothes. Fast fashion and the cheap, synthetic fabrics they use to make trendy clothing are enormous contributors to the problem. Shop at thrift stores, drawing upon the “Reuse,” part of the three R’s–reduce, reuse, recycle. Try to wear clothes with natural fibers like wool or cotton. Patch up old clothing that has holes, and if you must shop investigate the company’s ethics and values in search of environmental initiatives that give back.
Every cell phone case ever created still exists. Make a statement for what you stand for with a biodegradable phone case from Pela.
The movement to reduce plastic use starts with everyone. Analyze your garbage to see where you’re using plastic and how you can reduce it. Pick up garbage when you’re out on a hike and do your part, however big or small, to preserve the wildlife we love.
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