Every piece of plastic produced in the history of plastic still exists on the planet and, because it takes so long to biodegrade, it will all last for 500 more years. It’s why whales are dying with stomachs full of plastic, turtles have straws stuck up their nostrils and there is a great pacific garbage patch twice the size of Texas floating in the ocean.
Just Say No–to Plastic Straws
However, change is happening. In 2017, the organization Strawless Ocean started the #StopSucking campaign, encouraging people to say no to the plastic straw. Cities have now banned the use of plastic straws in bars and restaurants. And brands like the Four Seasons, Six Senses and Hilton have committed to the ban and are using sustainable options like bamboo and lemon grass straws instead. The campaign has not been without its criticism–some have noted that plastic straws only make up four percent of all of plastic ocean waste and banning straws is just a drop in the ocean (pun intended).
It’s true that saying no to a straw is a small step towards a more eco-friendly future but the campaign has inspired people to examine their plastic use more closely and see other ways to reduce and reuse. (Recycling should be considered the last resort and it’s not very effective with plastic waste.)
Bring Your Own
If you work in an office setting, keep a set of dishes and utensils at your desk and skip plastic utensils and paper cups. Plus the time spent washing your dishes is time you don’t have to work. (Score!) Can’t give up your daily coffee run? Simply bring a reusable mug to the coffee shop and hand it over. Not only will a lot of cafes give you rewards or discounts, they often fill up the mug to the brim turning that small coffee you just paid for into a large.
Be Cool with Camping Utensils
Invest in a camping utensil set for your purse or bag for when you are out and about and reduce the need for single use plastic utensils. Many of the sets include a reusable straw meaning you can #stopsucking and #keepsucking all at the same time.
Bars Over Bottles
Your bathroom is another place where you can reduce a lot of plastic pretty easily. Swap your body wash for bars of soap and also save money! In addition, give shampoo and conditioner bars a try and ditch those plastic bottles for good. One added bonus for bars: they are way easier to pack and travel with–no more annoying 3 oz. tiny bottles exploding in your bags while you fly. Try swapping out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one and even swap out your toothpaste tube for sustainable, non-plastic toothpaste alternatives.
Small Steps Spell Progress
The truth is we must change our ways and change them fast, if we want to protect our beautiful planet for years to come. And every step counts even if it’s as small as saying no to a plastic straw or as large as chaining yourself to a tree.