Plastics have been overpowering our planet now especially the Philippines. We can definitely find them everywhere; kitchen, grocery stores, in your office, name it. It’s inevitable. But did you know that these plastics are also found in the places where they shouldn’t be? You can find them in the ocean, rivers, mountains, creeks, and sometimes inside the sea animals who feed the entire humanity. As cliché as it may sound, but too much of anything isn’t good for anyone. Here are some tips on how you can reduce your plastic waste in 10 easy steps.
- Bring your own reusable Bags
Did you know that plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes, but a single plastic bag has a life expectancy of up to 1,000 years? Aside from that, marine wildlife often mistaken plastic bags for food, especially sea turtles hunting jellyfish. In fact, high amounts of plastic material, especially plastic bags, have been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many marine species, including whales, dolphins, seals, puffins, and turtles. Committing to refusal of plastic bags whenever you shop saves you from contributing 1 billion plastic bags used every year. Keep one in your bag, purse or your vehicle and save the marine life. Whenever the Manong Tindero asks you why you’re so weird for bringing your bag, just tell him, “Wala po kami basurahan eh.”
- Reusable Bottles
Investing in a reusable water bottle and refusing bottled water save you from contributing to 35 billion water bottles thrown away each year. These water bottles also take 17 million barrels to produce every year. That’s a lot of energy wasted. Just like reusable bags, this is one of the 10 most found plastic waste in the coasts. It will save you a lot of money as well!
- Reusable Paper towels
Did you know that single-use paper towels are not recyclable? After one wipe, they just end up in the landfill or worse in the bodies of water. Producing all that paper also consumes a lot of resources, including 110 million trees per year, and 130 billion gallons of water. Comparably huge amounts of energy are required to manufacture and deliver it from the factory to the store, causing plenty of carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere. After a single use, it all goes into the landfill – some 3,000 tons annually – where it generates methane as it decomposes. Using your own hankies or cloth towels will eliminate these numbers. It’s a win-win situation. You save some money and you help the environment at the same time.
- Invest in reusable Coffee Cup
Your typical coffee cup is neither recyclable nor compostable. Fifty eight billion of them are just thrown away in the landfill every year. If you are a caffeine drinker, investing or repurposing something to a coffee cup will also save your health. For instance, the coffee in a Styrofoam cup is made from polystyrene, a petroleum derived material. In addition to the harm done to the planet, styrene is also considered carcinogenic and has been shown to leach from polystyrene, especially when the inside liquid was hot. Would you like something to be leaching in your coffee? Investing in a reusable mug or cup will not only make your coffee tastes better but also would save one disposable cup to sit in the landfill for 500 years.
- Refusing Plastic Cutlery
You asked for a fast food chain take-out wrapped in plastic bags, packaged in Styrofoam together with plastic cutlery. You take the food out, you eat them and throw the cutlery after. It is estimated that 40 billion plastic cutleries are thrown away each year. Again, they do not just decompose but rather will end up in the ocean killing the marine life. Pack your own reusable set of cutlery in your bag so you’ll be prepared to refuse these disposables when the situation asked you to.
- Love your left overs
A 2013 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) report, which was the first study to analyze the impacts of global food wastage on the environment, says that nearly one-third of all food produced in the world for human consumption does not find its way to our tables. In a country where poverty and hunger is still a problem for many, this percentage of food waste is truly disturbing.
Loving your left overs and make something out of it will not only help you financially but also help the environment by avoiding this food waste to end up in landfills. These food wastes also produce a large amount of methane – a more powerful greenhouse gas than even CO2.
- Bamboo Toothbrush
With 4.7 billion toothbrushes being made annually, which are advised to change every 3 months, it seems pretty important to switch to a more sustainable and more eco-friendly option. Bamboo is abundant and fast-growing plant in the Philippines. When made into something purposeful like a toothbrush, changing every three months will not make our planet suffer. Switching to bamboo toothbrushes also decreases the chance of ending up in the ocean and choking marine animals.
- Suck responsibly
That single-use plastic straw you bought with your cold drink take 200 years to break down. According to Marine Conservation Society in the UK, plastic straws are one of the 10 items found in the beach clean –ups. You can suck responsibly by simply refusing straws or by investing into sustainable options like bamboo, stainless steel, or glass straws. Plastic straws have been also found in the stomach and airways of animals.
- Visit your local farmer’s market
If you will be asking where to buy the sustainable swaps mentioned above, it is not necessary to order abroad as it will contribute to more CO2 emissions by means of transportation. Instead, visit your local market to find these sustainable swaps.
Buying in a local farmer’s market also give you the chance of meeting farmers that sell their produce at the peak of its freshness. Aside from that, you can also avoid plastic packaging, stickers and ties since it came directly from the grower. This also reduces food miles, and puts money back to your local economy.
- Shop Second Hand
Our society is driven by consumerism and fast fashion. Overpriced clothings just contribute to pollution when the trend has officially ended. Almost every fiber in the material used to make these garments damages the environment during its life cycle. The production of polyester and nylon releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming 300 times more so than carbon dioxide. These cheaply made fibers eventually end up in oceans and streams as microfibers that come loose during washing cycles. Microfibers and microplastics are then ingested by fish and other ocean life that make their way up the food chain and onto our own plates.
These are just ten of the thousand things that you can do to be part of the solution of saving the environment. Every step you make in this journey equates to a bigger impact. Go out, be weird and make Philippines great again one less plastic at a time!