A Beginner’s Guide to Plastic Free Living

 

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse 

We’ve often heard that plastic is a huge problem, but why?

For me, it all started when I started following Sorelle Amore. I blame her for my new obsession. 🙂

She’s the one that introduced this idea of “Plastic-Free Living”. I saw her tips, tricks and cool, reusable stuff and, well, it caught my attention. The more I researched about plastic, the more it became disheartening. I’ve compiled my research below and provide some ways you can help reduce your plastic consumption. Let’s preserve Mother Nature so we can all live healthily – and so I can selfishly continue my beloved outdoor activities (they’re my FAV)!

 

Photo by Riccardo Chiarini 

Plastic Stats

Most plastics are non-biodegradable, meaning that once disposed of, they last for hundreds (I’ve even heard thousands) of years cluttering and poisoning our environment. Awesome.

Studies show that 400 million tons of plastic are disposed of annually in the surrounding environment. Approximately, 8 million tons of plastic enter and pollute our waterways. The alarming fact about the above statistics is that they mostly reflect single-use plastics that are non-recyclable. 

When it comes to plastics that end up in water bodies, it has been estimated to kill over millions of marine animals. According to University of Georgia engineering professor, Jenna Jambeck, over 700 species have been affected by plastic pollution. You’ve all seen the straw stuck in the turtle’s nose, right?

Photo by Julia Joppien

Plastic production began around the 1950s and has only tripled over the years. Shockingly, despite its adverse effects on the environment, its production on a global scale has only INCREASED. For this reason, the plastic industry is estimated to exhibit a 75% growth by the time it’s 2020 in the United States. So we know it’s killing our planet yet we’re going to produce more of it? Cool, makes sense.

Large producers of plastic are located in the global South of developing countries. Companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and  Nestlé tend to dump most of their plastic wastes in water bodies and waterways. Hence, the resources for plastic come from the producers themselves.

For me, what started as innocent curiosity has now developed into obsession. I feel like everyone is talking about it on social media – it’s everywhere. From AOC’s live sessions on Instagram to Sorelle Amore’s YouTube videos to even The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

How Does Plastic Use Affect Wellness?

Now that you have the context of why plastic is bad for the environment, I want to focus on wellness.

Most plastics are very toxic and threaten animals, wildlife and human beings. Plastics, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), tend to contain heavy metals and phthalates. When burned, they produce a compound known as dioxins, which is toxic and often gets released in the air. Phthalates have been to be particularly dangerous to the male population, as they tend to cause infertility and a major reduction in testosterone levels

Yikes!

Other plastics have also been found to contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), which have significant effects on our hormones. More specifically, BPA tends to mimic estrogen in our bodies, leading to weight gain. It has been found to increase the risk of developing certain cancers, as well as lead to low- sperm count in males and early puberty in females. 

It should be noted that plastics also contain numerous other additives that tend to leak into food and water. These additives are dangerous. Hence, you are advised to try and use plastics as little as possible, especially with children. The additives found in plastic containers cause us to ingest microplastics, which affect our immune systems negatively. 

Fish tend to ingest microplastics as a result of plastic pollution. Hence, when we eat seafood, we are also consuming these microplastics, which also tends to affect our health considerably. 

So, overall, it’s affecting everything and everyone. I personally don’t understand why it’s not banned yet…oh yeah, greed and profit. But we charge you $.10 for a plastic bag if you don’t bring your own. Progress?

What Can We Do About It?

I’m not an expert. This plastic free living is new and uncomfortable. Everyone’s heard about my first Starbucks experience with a reusable cup, right? Not a fun experience. But I do know that I want to do what I can and do my part. I hope with these micro changes that I can help inspire YOU to be more mindful of your plastic use and take baby steps to a better world for all of us!

Below are the top ways to reduce plastic consumption and pollution: 

  1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
  2. Carry and use reusable bottles instead of buying water. My favorite is the Simple Modern 64 oz. stainless steel water bottle
  3. Take part in River/Beach cleanups: By simply getting involved in movements such as the TLPS (The Last Plastic Straw) and Break Free From Plasticcould make such a huge difference
  4. Stop using products that have microbeads in them: Instead, opt for zero waste beauty products that can easily be found at online stores. For instance, the Zero Waste Store sells zero waste products that are not limited to only beauty products.
  5. Always opt for alternatives to products stored in plastic containers
  6. Support bans on single-use plastics and practices of it
  7. Bring your own produce mesh bags
  8. Spread the word: Let other people know about the dangers of plastic use and how it pollutes our environment and damages our health. Carry your sustainable products to social places to get people’s attention. You can start a conversation from there.
  9. Post on social media: Social media platforms are now the fastest way to spread information. If you are looking to put your social accounts to good use, use it to let others know about the dangers of plastic pollution.
  10. Support sustainable brands: There are a lot of brands that garner donations which are then sent to zero waste companies. Some of my favorites are below:

More Stories
The Ultimate One-Week Guide to Tulum, Mexico