Monday, 28 February 2011

10 Ways to Use Less Plastic

How do we change behaviour to be more sustainable? Of course there are many inspiring examples of how to reduce our collective carbon footprints, yet when it comes to creating change at the individual level, it can be very difficult to really get things done. In this post, we've tried to help you move away from plastics by breaking things down so that you can choose individual steps towards reducing plastic use:

(1) Stop buying and using bottled water - Plastic bottles are a major source of marine debris and are piling up around the world. Make your own filtered tap water and carry it in a stainless steel drinking flask, or simply drink straight from a filtered tap.

(2) Say "no" to plastic grocery bags - Plastic bags are a leading source of ocean garbage. Purchase and bring your own reusable bags when buying groceries.

(3) Say "no" to plastic snack bags, baggies and sandwich bags - Cloth napkins, wax paper or reusable sandwich bags and boxes can be used in place of their plastic equivalents.

4) Avoid Products that use Plastic to Begin With - Plastic is convenient but most of the cheaper grades (the clear stuff) find its way into our food, often leaving a film on anything that is wrapped in it and which we then eat. Microwaving anything in plastic cooks plastic residues right into the food, vaporizing other chemicals that contaminate the food and air.

5) Recycle or Reuse Materials - Plastic can be recycled and you will find that when you start recycling you at least save money on trash bags. Many containers can be washed out and reused (though they should be sterilized with apple cider vinegar). Note that only the higher grade plastics can be reused.

6) Choose Products with Biodegradable Plastic - Now many plastic cups along with packaging peanuts and other supplies are available in a biodegradable form. Companies like Ecosafe and Natur-Tec are providing real solutions to the plastic problem.

7) Repair, Sell or Upgrade Gadgets Many people run out and buy the latest new cell phone or iPod more often than needed, discarding their old phones in the rubbish where they not only add to plastic landfill but also leak out various other contaminants like Mercury. Meanwhile older components, while larger, are often superior as they tend to be constructed of much more solid materials. By repairing your items you can keep things in top shape much longer. Tackle small problems when they arise. Take the time to fix things. Buy used products when possible and sell your items online or at the local rummage sale when they are no longer needed. Prefer products that offer replacement parts.

8) Recycle Computer Parts - If you must discard items like monitors or printers, at least take them to an electronics recycler. The claim that most plastics can be recycled has been proven false, but for some plastics, the option is there. So recycle where possible while proactively cutting out plastic from your life.

(9) Experiment with New Materials & Innovative Products - From bamboo to glass and stainless steel, there are many options to help you make the move away from plastic.

(10) Convert those around you to plastic free living!

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