10 Easy to Implement Ways to Reduce Your Daily Plastic Consumption
By Kierstyn Clough – Guest Author for Ocean Legacy
Plastic pollution and waste is a large problem on our planet. Since plastic was invented in 1907, it has managed to take over and toxify our land, oceans, and even our bodies in a matter of 116 years. Canada is home to the longest coastline in the world as well as a quarter of the world’s fresh water. As Canadians, we must take on the opportunity and responsibility to treat our environment with care whenever possible. With the tips below, you will learn that reducing plastic consumption in your daily life is an easier task than you may originally have thought. This is by no means a fix-all, but it can help us gain a clearer understanding and become more aware of how our daily individual actions impact our planet.
1. Return-It system
You can now make a meaningful impact by recycling your plastic bottles and containers with the Return-It system located all throughout British Columbia! Simply head to return-it.ca to find your nearest location. After creating an account, you may provide Ocean Legacy’s office phone number (604-214-3591) to have your Return-It refunds donated directly to Ocean Legacy. This will help OLF continue to make an impact by funding future ocean cleanups!
2. Reusable utensil sets
These utensil cases allow you to always have cutlery on-hand and help out our landfills by saying no to single use plastic cutlery. They usually come with a wooden or bamboo fork, knife, spoon, straw, and metal straw cleaner. They are handy to keep on you when you know you will be getting takeout for lunch, or getting a smoothie after your workout. It’s easy to say no to plastic cutlery when you come prepared.
Did you know? In 2016, 3 million tonnes of plastic were discarded as waste in Canada and only 9% was recycled.
3. Reusable water bottles
After owning a reusable water bottle, you will never go back to using plastic water bottles. There are many amazing brands to choose from based on size, color and the performance you need. They are so easy to find as well – just take a look at your local grocery store and you’re bound to find one there. Reusable water bottles are most often made of stainless steel which will keep your drink cold (or hot) for a long time when you’re on the go.
Did you know? From 2012-2019, plastic water bottle production rose from 100,000 tonnes annually to 471,393 tonnes.
4. Reusable shopping and produce bags
It’s time to ditch the plastic shopping bag if your local grocery store hasn’t abolished it already. Not only are they harmful to the environment because most people only use them once before trashing them, but they are unnecessary. Cloth reusable shopping bags come in many sizes, designs and colors, and can be washed and reused as many times as you need. Your local grocery store will most likely carry reusable bag options near the checkout, as most grocery stores in Canada now have a plastic bag fee.
Did you know? Five trillion plastic bags are produced each year worldwide and 160,000 plastic bags are produced each second.
Did you know? A lot of produce that has an outer skin (like oranges or bananas) do not need to be protected in a plastic bag, since you only eat the inside of the fruit.
5. Reusable coffee cups and takeout containers
Depending on where you live, your local cafe may allow you to bring your own coffee cup or takeout container to help reduce single waste plastic! Simply bring your own coffee cup or container to your local cafe and ask that they pack your food/pour your coffee into your own item, instead of using their one-time use product.
Did you know? In Vancouver, 2.6 million disposable coffee cups end up in the landfill each week.
6. Menstrual cups and cloth pads
Not only can the amount of plastic from disposable pads and tampons add up after a lifetime of usage, but most of these products are actually toxic to the body – containing harsh chemicals like bleach. Menstrual cups have been gaining in popularity the last few years, and for good reason! Women have noted that they do not need to be changed as often as tampons and with these, there is no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Reusable pads are a great pad option if you don’t feel comfortable with tampons or cups. Simply wash accordingly and reuse!
Did you know? Single use menstrual products like tampons contain up to 90% plastic and are often individually wrapped or come with plastic applicators, which perpetuates the single use plastic problem.
7. Safety razors
It’s no secret that disposable razors create a lot of waste. You use them a few times, and when the blades get dull, you are forced to throw out the entire razor – plastic handle and all. Reusable safety razors are a great option to reduce this waste. They are made of metal and when the blades get dull, it’s easy to switch it out for a brand new one. These blades are super sharp though, so you may find more comfort in an electric shaver! Electric shavers work on dry skin and do not need water or shaving cream.
Did you know? (2022) The Canadian federal government estimates that over the next 10 years, the single use plastic ban will result in the elimination of more than 1.3 million tonnes of plastic waste, and more than 22,000 tonnes of plastic pollution.
8. Refillable cleaning supplies
Refilling your own cleaning supplies is an absolute game-changer if any environmentally-friendly stores near you accommodate this! Try checking for a sustainable store in your area who will do this for you, or check online stores like Blueland to find eco-friendly and plastic free cleaning products and laundry detergent that can be refilled to reduce plastic bottle waste!
Did you know? In 2020, Canadian businesses and households diverted almost 10 million tonnes of material from landfills, up 4% (352,000 tonnes) from 2018.
9. Wax food wraps
Single use plastic wrap can be a pain to use, as well as detrimental to the environment. Reusable food wraps like beeswax wraps have gotten very popular in the last few years for keeping food fresh. These wraps are sustainably made and cover your food to keep it from spoiling and preventing food waste. There are also plant based wax wraps for those who do not wish to use beeswax.
Did you know? Humans may be exposed to microplastics by eating food packaged in plastic, as well as drinking from bottled and tap water.
10. Shop bulk
One of the most important, conscious and active choices you can make while shopping is taking inventory of how many products you are buying that are contained in single-use plastic. Whether it be a bag of oatmeal or a clamshell of strawberries, there are many products we purchase in plastic when they can be purchased in bulk or without plastic packaging. Check to see if there is a bulk aisle in your local grocery store or a bulk store near you. Here, you can bring your own reusable bags or mason jars to fill up bulk nuts, seeds, oats, beans and more to reduce plastic waste. Local farmers markets are also a great option to get plastic-free produce. The less plastic we purchase in general, the less ends up in our environment and oceans.
Did you know? Buying in bulk will help you use fewer plastic bags, reduce packaging waste, minimise transport pollution and help you enjoy fresher products due to higher stock turnover.
It can be easy to introduce environmentally-friendly options into your life! One person can make a difference to help reduce plastic pollution – it only requires consistent commitment and action. Reducing plastic waste is an essential commitment to safeguarding our planet’s health. By adopting sustainable practices and minimizing plastic consumption in our daily lives, we can contribute to cleaner oceans, reduced pollution, and a healthier ecosystem overall. By making a consistent effort, we can work towards a more sustainable and plastic-conscious future – preserving the beauty and well-being of our environment for generations to come.
By Kierstyn Clough – Guest Author for Ocean Legacy
We’d like to thank Kierstyn for joining OLF as a guest author, providing us with some quality blogs!