Photo by Maria Ilves on Unsplash
We continue our “trajectory” at home and everyday life in relation to plastic items and how we can reduce their consumption and use but also how we should best handle them.
Plastic has a very big role in our daily lives and, obviously, offers several advantages mainly from a financial and usage aspect. Therefore, we find it everywhere: in the house, on the balcony, in the garden, in the car but also on us! Fortunately, there are many alternatives to replace it or even to reuse it, so that we reduce the amounts we consume that usually end up in landfills and, eventually, in our seas!
Food Habits & Shopping
That plastic cutlery that comes with delivery or take-away food is not necessary at home or work, just like those napkins within the plastic bag. When ordering food, ask the store not to send disposable cutlery and, instead, have your own, reusable cutlery with you (a very good and easy solution is bamboo cutlery).
For your take-away coffee, remember to bring your own glass or mug, conventional or recycled, and say no to bottled water. You can always carry your own glass bottle with you! Those of us who have coffee machines, mainly espresso, should ideally buy reusable or recyclable capsules. Of course, an equally good alternative would be to have a coffee machine without capsules and buy bulk ground coffee or coffee beans.
As for food containers, bags and plastic wrap that we usually use to take meals or snacks with us, they can be replaced by glass containers, bags made of eco-friendly materials and new products such as wrappers made of paper or fabric lined with wax, which retain food better than plastic but are also washable and can be reused.
If you already have plastic containers, just find ways to reuse them -instead of putting them for recycling – either for food storage or for other uses at home (e.g. a plastic bottle can be used as a watering can for our plants.
For our daily shopping it is a good idea to avoid reusable plastic bags and, if possible, use fabric (made of natural materials) or shopping nets. Even for groceries, leave aside plastic bags and choose those paper bags offered in all grocery stores and supermarkets.
When buying packaged products (not only food), check the packaging information and try to select products whose packaging is either made of natural materials, without plastic, or recycled.
Home Equipment & Decorations
Options are countless and cover all tastes, ranging from cheap to luxury items. So, let’s embrace the “less is more” concept and choose quality over quantity (which is usually eco-friendly too). The cheapest items are usually made of plastic while metal, glass and wood are much more expensive materials (especially wood, if it is of sustainable origin). From chairs, tables and other furniture, to carpets, sheets, pillowcases, decorations, containers, storage boxes and many small items, let’s try to avoid plastic ones. And if this is not possible at all times, at least think twice before you toss them away when not needed anymore and find smart ways to re-use them.
For those who love gardening, choose pots and gardening tools not made of plastic (e.g. ceramic pots, which may be a little more expensive and heavier, but also benefit both our plants and the environment as they will not end up as plastic parts in the trash).
For lighting items, we can, where possible, choose solar lamps (e.g. for outdoor lighting or even decorative lighting) from natural materials with minimum amount of plastic in their composition.
Clothing, Shoes, Accessories, Beauty & Toys
We have extensively described the problems of synthetic clothes in a previous article and we have analyzed all the reasons why we should avoid them. For similar reasons we must look for alternatives (and fortunately there are quite a few out there) for shoes and accessories made of natural materials, with durability, which are friendly to the environment and our skin.
The chapter of cosmetics, especially for women, is just as huge and we should opt for companies and products of eco-friendly packaging and natural ingredients that do not compromise the wellbeing of our skin (of course, animal-testing free). There are now countless options in the market both from large and smaller brands.
Finally, when it comes to toys for babies and children, say no to those plastic ones that have filled the market (which usually come in packages that are almost entirely made of plastic) and head for more natural solutions (e.g. wooden toys and accessories), that, among other things, help us pass the ecology message to children.
In the era of the pandemic, many things have changed in our lives and have left us with no particular choices. Since we cannot replace high-protection masks with masks from other materials that do not contain plastic, at least let’s dispose of them properly to avoid those awful images with masks thrown on the streets, the beaches, and even in our seas.
Antiseptics can be stored in small glass containers and purchased in the largest packaging size so that we can refill our own container. Even antiseptic wipes can be replaced with tissue paper with some liquid antiseptic on (the best thing, of course, would be to just get them out of our lives completely and just wash our hands often or use the liquid antiseptic, when necessary).
The list of plastic items in our lives is endless but if we could at least change our routines just a little bit in the ways mentioned in those two last articles, we will both enjoy a better life and, also, go one step further towards an attitude that does not burden the environment and animals!