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In almost every part and aspect of our lives, we have used plastic at some point or the other. In the food industry, food either comes packed in plastic packaging and sold in supermarkets, or plastic containers are used in restaurant takeaway services. Even our most common needs like milk and other essential groceries come packing in some amount of plastic.
Our daily hygiene and beauty routine is packed with plastic materials. Not just the packaging, but even the products themselves have plastic. Even our clothing is not left untouched by this plaguing material. Plastic became so popular because of certain properties that made it very favorable, especially the aspect of durability. But this property is a double-edged sword.
While plastic is very durable and resistant, it does not break down and degrade at all. Even if it does (after about 600-800 years), it still stays in our environment in the form of microplastics. They are basically smaller plastic bits that leach into our soil and water, causing a lot of damage to human health, animal health and also plant health.
A lot of time and energy must be spent on finding eco-friendly alternatives to plastic. While it is clear that there are many applications to plastic, finding one plastic that does not have a negative impact on the planet is difficult. This is why extensive research is being done on finding sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives that can replace plastic and not cause a bad effect on our planet.
These alternatives will help control our plastic use and will also make a ripple effect in the production chain as well. Today more than ever, we have so many different plastic alternatives. All we need is the right information and education to spread the word about these alternatives, so that they can be available to more and more people across the globe.
There are many things that we can use on a day to day basis to reduce our plastic consumption. Most of these require a one-time investment, but in the longer run, they end up saving money and also the environment. Some of the most common alternatives you can use to swap out the plastic in your life are –
Stainless steel is a strong, resistant, and durable material. Steel containers can be used in place of plastic takeaway ones, and steel straws can be used instead of the plastic ones which are known to harm marine life immensely. Steel cutlery and dishes are a very effective swap that saves a lot of plastic usages.
Glass is an inert and food-safe material that is not biodegradable, but it sure does last for long. It is highly recyclable and is used for storing pickles, jams, and other food items as well. Glass jars also can give our kitchen an amazing facelift, making it look clean and tidy.
Silicone is a flexible material that is medical-grade and food-grade material as well. Menstrual cups are also made of silicone. A lot of kitchen utensils are using silicone these days because it is also heat-resistant to an extent.
Beeswax has water-repelling qualities. These days, beeswax-coated cloths are gaining a lot of popularity because they can be used as a substitute for cling film, which is a very flimsy plastic wrapper that is used to protect food. Beeswax-coated fabric is easy to use and easy to clean as well.
Organic cotton, hemp, and jute fabrics can be used instead of synthetic materials. Not only are these materials very comfortable and easy on the skin, but they also last longer than the artificial synthetic materials that are so readily available. Clothes made from these materials can also be composted when they have worn out completely.
These two materials have been around forever, we just need to start using them again. Bamboo grows easily and bamboo toothbrushes and straws help avoid a lot of plastic going into the oceans and into landfills.
This is another swap that is healthier for you and can be easily incorporated in your kitchen as many utensils are made from clay and ceramic.
Rather than using shiny wrapping paper that is actually plastic, handmade paper is a better alternative, and it also looks super pretty. Cardboard boxes are also a very effective swap for plastic boxes and both these materials can be composted with ease, causing zero waste.
There are also certain bioplastics that can be used in place of artificially synthesized plastics. While these options do exist, they are not easily available and do not compost in a simple manner. They require specific weather and heat conditions to break down properly. Rather than opting for these, we suggest that you avoid the use of plastic altogether.
Habits are hard to break, especially when convenience becomes the basis for a lot of your actions. If you care about the planet and want do your bit, then breaking out of some of your convenience-driven habits will surely help. But also be kind to yourself and take one small step a day. It could be something as small as refusing a plastic straw at your local juice shop.
Starting from there, you can slowly take slightly bigger steps like bringing your own containers for food and coffee. Carrying your own cloth bag for buying veggies does seem like a massive step, but it prevents so many plastic bags from being chucked into the oceans and in landfills. At some point, we all need to understand what the real cost of convenience is. And the price has to be paid by our future generations and our planet.
In conclusion, the easiest way to fight this issue is by refusing any plastic items or things that come in plastic wrappings. Refusing is the first step, then comes reusing, reducing, and recycling.
About Plastic Collectors : Plastic Collectors is an initiative by a group of dedicated people around the world. They are working towards fighting the plastic menace. They collect plastic and mobilize people to do the same and hand over these plastics to their nearest recycling stations. People are also provided remuneration for the plastic they collect. Know more about how you can join the cause.