Going Plastic Free: Environmental Benefits And 6 Techniques

The Environmental Benefits of Going Plastic Free, with 6 Simple but Effective Techniques

Whether you like it or not, the world is changing rapidly, and not in a good way. The population increase brings more demand for basic needs like food and shelter. Hence, businesses scramble to produce as many products as possible to meet those demands. Many companies apply the fastest methods for production, which often results in the creation of plastics.

Plastic is both a blessing and a curse as a material. Its invention has made daily life easier by providing durable containers and protectors for almost anything. Due to its practicality, many people have used plastic products for decades. However, there’s a downside to that because plastic generally takes 450 years to decompose. So, your grandchildren can have their own grandchildren, and the plastic cup you drank from when you were 15 is still in the trash.

The Environmental Benefits of Reducing Plastic Use

Fortunately, people worldwide are now switching to a plastic-free lifestyle to curb this phenomenon. For some, it’s quite an easy change, but for others, it may prove challenging. There are many benefits to going plastic-free other than reducing landfill waste. Here are the most notable ones:

  • Less Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is one of the major causes of global warming. It’s a natural gas produced by organisms, like animals and humans when they respire or decompose. But plastic products also increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, thus resulting in warmer than usual weather people experience nowadays.

Factories also create plastic materials using non-renewable sources like fossil fuel, which adds to the natural carbon dioxide content. Companies can reduce their use of plastic by lowering their demand for plastic content and switching to more sustainable items. They may even create ethical versions of their products, like the many sustainable shampoo bars that have been created, such as Ethique Plastic Free Bars, for their environmentally-conscious customers.

ethique shampoo bar and coconut

When making the switch, some people look for different ways to recycle their plastic products. Unfortunately, despite the good intentions, recycling plastic and turning it into something else often results in more carbon dioxide emissions. So, overall, it’s better to reduce plastic consumption altogether to save more energy.

  • Less Harm To Animals

It’s a pretty well-known fact that plastic takes a long time to decompose. And if not managed properly, these items can find their way into rivers and oceans, causing more waste to build up in places where they shouldn’t be.

Many marine biologists and ordinary beach-goers have witnessed poor sea creatures affected by the onslaught of plastic in their habitat. They’ve found microplastics in dead animals’ stomachs and other animals have died as a result of encountering plastic.

If people reduce their plastic usage, there’s a possibility that fewer pieces will travel to oceans where they could trap or injure marine animals like sharks, turtles, and seagulls. Every major body of water would be much cleaner, and more organisms would return and grow in their natural habitat.

plastic waste in bunches in the ocean
Plastic pollution and juvenile fish.
Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash
  • Less Harm To Humans

Aside from harming animal life, plastic is also a threat to humans. Certain chemicals in plastic may be toxic when ingested. It might sound impossible for people to eat plastic, but studies show that, on average, a person ingests around 39,000 to 74,000 microplastic particles annually. So, even if you’re careful with what you eat, you may still consume tiny bits of plastic daily.

The chemicals in plastic may cause life-threatening illnesses such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Auto-immune, neuro-degenerative, or cardiovascular diseases

That’s not the whole list, but it should give you a clue about how too much plastic can shorten people’s lifespans. With this in mind, the less plastic around you, the less you risk contracting these ailments.

6 Techniques for Going Plastic Free

You may be considering how to incorporate that kind of lifestyle now that you know some of the benefits of a plastic-free life. Here are six simple methods to get you started on your sustainable and ethical journey without using plastic:

  1. Choose Reusable Products

On-the-go people usually buy takeout more than most. But these meals tend to come in wasteful plastic containers. So, one way to become more eco-friendly is to use reusable products more often.

You have many options of reusable items, especially for food and drink, like travel water bottles, sealed containers, or collapsible coffee cups. Instead of buying lunch outside daily, prepare your meals in advance and store them in those containers. If you have already prepared meals, you won’t be tempted to order takeout food for work or school. This method is one way to avoid accumulating one-use plastic or bags.

Another reusable product available is the menstrual cup. Sanitary products are notorious for adding up to landfills and are thought unsanitary if not disposed of correctly. Tampons, panty liners, and pads also come in plastic packaging, serving as additional trash in your home. However, you can easily clean and store menstrual cups without worrying about the extra waste. Moreover, you can use it multiple times.

If you’re like most people who do the groceries regularly, you’ll benefit significantly from a reusable shopping bag. Unlike receiving your groceries in flimsy plastic or paper bags, the sturdy material of a reusable bag, often made of recycled materials, will keep your things secure. Leaks won’t be much of a problem with one either, and you’ll be doing the environment a little favor.

  1. Reduce One-Time-Use Plastics

Sometimes, ordering takeout is inevitable, especially if you forget to go grocery shopping to test your reusable bag. But delivered meals often come with one-time-use plastic cups and utensils you’ll eventually toss in the trash. These items tend to fill up dumpsites and stay there long.

So, one way to keep that from worsening is to avoid getting plastic products you’ll only use once. When you have to order food, refrain from requesting utensils and straws. If the restaurant offers an eco-friendlier option, like bamboo forks and spoons, choose that instead or forgo that entirely. You can use your own stainless-steel cutlery at home or order food you can eat with your hands.

Zero waste concept with copy space. Woman holding cotton shopper and reusable mesh shopping bags with vegetables, products. Eco friendly mesh shopper. Zero waste, plastic free concept

At the grocery store, avoid buying fresh produce wrapped in plastic. The wraps serve nothing more than to protect fruits and vegetables from foreign matter. A wiser option would be to buy in farmer’s markets. Most of the products sold there are often organically grown, so you’ll also be taking care of your health. Make sure to bring your own container or bag to carry the fresh food home. Then, place them in your reusable containers to keep them clean and fresh.

Another method to reduce your plastic usage is to find food products in plastic-free packaging. Many businesses nowadays incorporate paper packaging for their items. If you have a small business, try using honeycomb wrapping paper instead of bubble wrap for your fragile packages. They’re just as secure and durable as their plastic counterparts and decompose faster when thrown away.

  1. Switch To Sustainable Items

Society has made it clear that personal cleanliness and grooming matter. They’re indicators of good health and assure others that you’re not a walking disease-spreader. So, it’s essential to have basic hygiene products in stock at home. This issue is that many household bath items come in plastic containers and packaging. Once finished, it’s straight to the trash they go.

There are several ways to reuse empty shampoo and lotion bottles, but purchasing sustainable products is still advisable if you wish to be eco-friendly. Fortunately, many plastic-free hygiene items like wooden or bamboo toothbrushes, package-free soaps, and reusable cotton buds are on the market. You can also find sustainable versions of everyday bathroom products such as deodorant bars, shampoo and conditioner bars, and toothpaste tablets.

If you make your kitchen plastic-free, you should also do the same for your bathroom. The other rooms will eventually follow suit, and you’ll have a home that’s a little kinder to the environment.

going plastic free with reusable, glass, and cardboard shopping bags and containers
  1. Get Refills

While still on the topic of bath products, the main reason why people accumulate so much plastic waste is that there’s no other way to restock shampoo and toothpaste than to buy new ones. The increase of plastic-based bathroom trash in households has prompted several organizations, communities, and businesses to set up what may be called a refilling station.

If you need more lotion, shampoo, and conditioner, you could visit a nearby station to refill your empty bottles and containers. Other stations may also provide cleaning items like laundry detergent and dishwashing soap refills. All you need to bring is the original bottle or any empty, clean container that’s spacious enough. Some stations may require a small fee for each refill, but if you’re lucky, you’ll find one that refills for free.

  1. Avoid Individually-Wrapped Food

When it comes to food, especially sweets, most people can’t refuse a piece or two. Chocolates and candies are the primary culprits of the tiny bits of plastic in many dumpsites. As such, it’s better to avoid buying individually-wrapped snacks altogether. That includes steering clear of chewing gum packets and the like.

Opt for freshly cut fruits or nuts if you need something sweet or savory while studying or watching movies. You can find many snack options with compostable or reusable packaging. Try getting some to avoid making a mess. You’ll also save yourself time from unwrapping each piece of candy or chocolate one by one.

  1. Don’t Toss Out Old Plastic Toys

You may have a few childhood knickknacks lying around in your home, or you have a child with their own toys. But once your kid grows too old for their plastic toys, you might want to throw their tiny figurines and cars away. Sadly, people who toss out toys add to the growing pile of plastic waste globally. There are better and more eco-friendly methods to deal with them.

Instead of throwing away old plastic toys, find ways to repurpose them. Some toys have attractive designs you can turn into decorations for your home. Just clean them up and display them wherever you please. You could also hand them down to your younger children or the kids of friends and relatives to help these families save money.

You can even donate toys that are still in excellent condition. Many public schools and non-profit organizations accept donations for students and children in their care. They’ll appreciate receiving sanitized toys in working condition since they won’t need to buy new ones.

If you want to provide your little one with something to play with, you can find sustainable toys that will decompose after a few years. They’re generally safer since small children tend to put their toys in their mouths.

Final Thoughts on Going Plastic Free

Turning to a plastic-free lifestyle isn’t as challenging as it sounds. If you find starting difficult, you can take baby steps and let go of one plastic item you use or encounter frequently. You’ll eventually get used to going through life without it or using its eco-friendly version.

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