Rethink plastic: reduce and eliminate

Have you thought about how you consume plastic? Have you considered how you could reduce your plastic footprint?

In my last blog I shared a few alarming statistics and facts about plastic with you.

The next step is to actively practise plastic reduction and elimination. Here are 6 suggestions to get you started:

The last straw

When you stop at the corner store, do you get a straw with your can of Coke? When you order a milkshake at a restaurant, do you ask the waiter to hold back on a straw? Do you really need a straw? Probably not.
More and more establishments in Durban are asking themselves these questions. Last year, while eating at Ocean Basket I was pleasantly surprised to read the notice on the table that the seafood chain has done away with straws and plastic packets for “doggy bags”, saying: “It’s the last straw”.
On a recent visit to The Oyster Box hotel in uMhlanga, I noticed a similar sign displayed prominently in the reception area. They too have declared it’s “the last straw”. The hotel has done away with plastic straws in favour of biodegradable ones.
And the Arts Café at the KZNSA GAllery in Glenwood is also eschewing the plastic straw. I’m beginning to notice that more and more restaurants, fast food outlets and stores in Durban are following suit.
Further afield, in Cape Town, the Two Oceans Aquarium, is calling on South Africans to stop using straws because we are facing a “catastrawphe”.

Now, all food kiosks at the aquarium are using plastic-free, PLA drinking straws and packaging. They look and feel like regular straws. But they will break down when disposed of in a correctly functioning compost heap.

Two Oceans has also implemented the Straws Suck! campaign and have created a fantastic downloadable infographic that would go down well with kids.

If you must have a straw why not opt for a glass, bamboo or stainless steel one. There a number of locally-produced my first choice) as well as imported options to choose from. Download the list of the ones I’ve sourced in South Africa here.

Ditch the plastic bag

By now, you’re probably reeling from the number of figures I’ve thrown at you in my last blog. But here’s another one – for good measure. How many plastic bags do you think are being used around the world in a minute?

One million. 

Don’t you think it’s time to ditch them? 

Switch over to a strong and sturdy reusable bag made of cotton, nylon or polyester.  I’ve found some very cool and sturdy bags made of recycled plastic. They’re my favourite and I always have them in the boot of my car.

And what’s really cool is that I can use the same bags for grocery, toiletry and even clothes shopping!

Give up bottled water

I must admit I struggle with this one. My go-to drink is sparkling water.

But, if you are concerned about the water that comes out of your tap, why not invest in a water filtration system? 

I also invested in a good glass bottle that I fill whenever I am on the go. For my kids, I’ve opted for stainless steel bottles that are safer in lunch boxes that often get thrown around at school.

Say no to plastic utensils

Do you accept the plastic utensils that come with your takeout meal, only to dispose of it as soon as you’re done eating? If you must have utensils to eat your meal, why not carry your own (as you would a reusable straw).

Carry your own bag for your fruit and veg

A colleague recently introduced me to these really cool bags that she purchased online – designed specifically for fruit and veg. They’re a great idea if you can afford them. Alternatively, you can simply choose your produce, have them weighed and load them into a single cloth bag. At the cashier, hand in the slips to be scanned and head home with the produce. The bonus – there’s less unpacking, packing and cleanup once I get home!

Chop the chewing gum

Did you know almost all chewing gum is made from plastic? That’s right. When you’re chewing gum, you’re chewing on plastic.

Choosing a plastic-free lifestyle is not easy. I takes commitment and loads of hard work. There are times it would be so much easier to give in and buy that bottle of iced water on a humid summer day.

Choosing a sustainable lifestyle is part of my journey in the “slow” lane. It’s also part of my commitment to support and buy local.

As I research my options, I become more and more aware of like-minded people on my doorstep. Part of my journey is the learning process. So, if you have any thoughts on the subject of plastic and how we could reduce and eliminate it in our lives, do drop me a comment.

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