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The 7 B’s of Becoming Plastic Free

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If you are trying to go green for the planet and live more sustainably,

OR if you are trying to reduce the toxins and chemicals present in your lifestyle,

Going plastic-free is immensely beneficial to both your personal health and environmental health!

Why do we consume plastics when they are:

  1. Bad for you
  2. Bad for the planet
  3. Bad for wildlife?

Plastics are made up of chemicals that have detrimental impacts on our health. Most plastics contain BPA (Bisphenol-A), PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), or Phthalates that are endocrine disruptors and correlated with issues like reproductive malformations, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, asthma, increased allergic reactions, and lowered sperm counts.

Plastics are neither healthy for us or for the environment. Plastic is manufactured out of fossil fuels which require environmentally hazardous practices like fracking to extract out of the earth. The U.S. Energy Energy Information Administration notes “plastics are made from liquid petroleum gases (LPG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas.”

Plastic is both energy and resource-intensive to mass produce as well as extremely polluting when it is disposed of improperly. The “best” way to dispose of plastics is to recycle them however only about 9% of all plastics are recycled while the rest sits in a landfill, land, or the ocean leaking toxic chemicals such as styrene and benzene as they degrade. The tragic truth is that an unfortunate amount of plastic ends up in our oceans or nature where it wreaks havoc on wildlife.

When a plastic bag ends up in the ocean, for example, it first remains intact, tempting hungry sea turtles to consume or float their way to  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Eventually, the plastic bag will degrade into smaller microplastics which also tempt hungry sea life to ingest making its way into the supply chain.

So why are plastics still being produced?

The truth is humans rely heavily on the practicality and wide-scale acceptance of plastics.

However, there are currently over 112+ countries, regions, or cities that have banned or limited single-use plastics such as South Korea, China, and Rwanda according to PRI.

Just because single-use plastics are still available and widely relied on in the United States, doesn’t mean we should be using them.

Be proactive about reducing your own plastic consumption to improve your personal health and mitigating your impact on the planet.

Going plastic-free is one of the first steps to living a zero-waste or low-waste lifestyle.

So how can you reduce your single-use plastic consumption starting today?

This list outlines the 7 B’s of going plastic-free!

  1. BRING your own! Bringing your own metal straw and reusable water bottle or glass if you usually go out to buy beverages like coffee, smoothies, or tea is by far the easiest way to vastly reduce your plastic footprint.
    • You could be saving over 1,000 plastic bottles per year by using a reusable bottle according to Arcadia Power. If you enjoy cold drinks in the morning, imagine how many plastic cups, lids, and straws you would save by bringing your own glass jar and metal straw to sip your iced vanilla latte out of!
  2. BULK up! Buy ingredients in bulk. Instead of small, individually (plastic) wrapped containers and bags of chips, nuts, grains, legumes, candies opt for a grocery store that offers all these delicious ingredients and more in their bulk section.
    • Try to buy laundry detergent, lotions, and body care products in glass bottles or better yet find a refillery/bulk store where you can refill. Here is an incredible resource to locate bulk stores near you!
    • Pro tip: bring your own small produce bags, jars and containers to fill with bulk items like flours, teas, rice, beans, pasta, fresh nut butters, sweet snacks, oats, herbs, spices, and anything you could imagine.
  3. BE intentional about consuming. When shopping for decorations, gifts, toys, office supplies, and souvenirs that are often cheaply and unsustainably made (out of plastic), stop and ask yourself “is this both a necessary and enduring item that I want in my life”.
    •  If you are shopping for gifts to give to family and friends strongly consider experiences and donations to a cause they are passionate about for a genuine, heartfelt, and unique gift.
  4. BECOME a bag lady! Bring your own reusable canvas bags EVERYWHERE! You can bring your bags to the grocery store, local shops, to-go restaurants, school, work, thrift shops, farmers’ markets etc. Keep a stash of these bags to prevent last-minute grocery store parking lot panics. Don’t forget the small reusable produce bags!
  5. BEFRIEND your farmers! Shop for your groceries at farmers’ markets. Farmers markets are a great way to get involved in supporting your local community economy
    • Best of all, most farmers’ market stands display produce without any plastic wrapping. You will have the wonderful experience of getting to know your local farmer, chatting about fresh seasonal produce, and pa Co-ops and CSA boxes are a great alternative there are not any farmers markets in your area.
  6. BUY secondhand! Choosing to buy secondhand not only is better for the environment by lessening your carbon footprint but also is better for your wallet. However, the best part about purchasing pre-loved objects is that they are often not wrapped in plastic making it easier for you on your journey to plastic-free living.
  7. Say “BYE-BYE” to online shopping. Every time you ship an object off, the item is covered in its own packaging (as it would be in a store) in addition to bubble wrap, Styrofoam, or tissue.

These “B” step actions will help you vastly reduce your plastic footprint on the planet.

It is always advised to:

  1. Reduce
  2. Reuse
  3. Recycle

Of course, when you still find yourself ending up with plastics, always try to reuse or repurpose your plastic bottles, bags, or packaging for another purpose such as trash bags.

Finally, recycle your plastics as a last resort to be as environmentally friendly as possible!

Cover Photo by Carmen Danae @carmendanae

1 thought on “The 7 B’s of Becoming Plastic Free”

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