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The 7 B’s of Becoming Plastic-Free

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If you’re 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 personal 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, and increased activity allergic reactions, and lowered sperm counts.

Plastics are neither healthy for us nor the environment. Plastic is manufactured from fossil fuels requiring environmentally unsafe practices like fracking to extract 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 energy and resource-intensive to mass-produce and extremely polluting when 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 that tempt hungry sea life to ingest them, making their 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, according to PRI, over 112+ countries, regions, or cities have banned or limited single-use plastics, such as South Korea, China, and Rwanda.

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 plastic consumption to improve your health and mitigate 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 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.
    • According to Arcadia Power, you could be saving over 1,000 plastic bottles per year by using a reusable bottle. If you enjoy cold drinks in the morning, imagine how many plastic cups, lids, and straws you would save by bringing your 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 small produce bags, jars, and containers to fill with bulk items like flour, teas, rice, beans, pasta, fresh nut butter, 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 passionate cause for a genuine, heartfelt, and unique gift.
  4. BECOME a bag lady! Bring your 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. Don’t forget the small reusable produce bags! Keep a stash of these bags to prevent last-minute grocery store parking lot panics.
  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 if there are no farmers markets in your area.
  6. BUY secondhand! Choosing to buy secondhand is better for the environment by lessening your carbon footprint and 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 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!

 

 

 

Credit: Cover Photo by Carmen Danae @carmendanae

Updated. December 23, 2021

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

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