“Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, Why are we here? Plastic… asshole.” – George Carlin
How to Use Less Plastic
By Jaunty Staff
Plastic Waste Statistics
448 million tons of plastic was produced in 2015… – National Geographic
First, let’s give plastic it’s due. Heralded as a game changer during WWII, plastic was the first reliable man made substitute for scarce natural resources.
Over the next 50 years, plastic played a key role in innovative healthcare, safer, fuel efficient cars, space travel, countless technological advancements etc….
Unfortunately, humans being humans, we’ve gone “hog wild” with the cheap, readily available nature of plastic, creating a serious global issue.
Where does it all go?
How to Use Less Plastic in Daily Life
We took a look at our personal reliance on plastic & what we could eliminate over the next 30 days.
It turns out we mindlessly use a lot of plastic 🙁
Our Quick List: coffee to-go cups, Vitamin drinks, grocery bags, tooth brush, razors, sandwich baggies, freezer bags, water bottles, straws, trash bags, household cleaners, garden hose, straws, plastic wrap, carry out food with plastic containers, vitamin containers, cell phones, watches, ear-buds, glasses, clothes, laptops, furniture, cars…
The list isn’t comprehensive (I’m sure our readers could suggest additional items), but it’s a good start.
Next, we honed in on items to substitute right now…
First up: One & Done consumables
Sadly, some of these products have a useful lifespan of about a ½ hour, then we discard them. One and done consumables such as to-go coffee cups, plastic drink bottles, grocery bags, storage baggies, trash bags were items we could address right away. With some minor lifestyle adjustments, it wasn’t hard to have an immediate impact.
Why Use Reusable Coffee Cups
Coffee anyone? We’re a family of coffee/tea drinkers & addicted to the smell, the taste & ritual of our favorite beverages! Once or twice a week, we stop by a coffee shop.
Reusable portable metal, glass or silicone/plastic mugs.
Coffee shops are happy to use your mug for coffee or tea. I was a little self conscious taking my Hydro-flask coffee mug into the coffee shop, however, your Barista will be more than happy to accommodate. Side benefit: my hydro-flask mug keeps my coffee (hot or iced) at the correct temp far longer. We also found collapsible coffee cups to pack for travel. Use, Rinse, Repeat…
Coffee is best served in a coffee cup! – Most coffee shops offer the option of a classic “To-stay” coffee cup/mug. So, linger a while, soak in the atmosphere when time allows, and hand the cup back when your done.
Coffee quick math for our family of 4:
About 6 X’s a week X’s 52 weeks = 312 less cups/lids
Plastic in the Ocean
Roughly 12.7 million tons of plastic enter the worlds oceans every year. Plastic then breaks down into smaller particles called microplastics & spreads globally. Microplastics have been found in every corner of the globe, from Mount Everest to the Mariana Trench -National Geographic
How to Use Less Plastic at the Grocery Store
Reusable grocery bags, fruit/veggie bags – While we’d already adopted reusable grocery bags, adding reusable Fruit/veggie bags was a no brainer. Toss the veggies in at the store,check out & toss them in the fridge. Veggie bags are durable, PBA free & will let your grocer easily scan your veggie selection at check out. Occasionally rinse off or throw them in the laundry & their ready for the next grocery shop.
Grocery/Veggie bag quick math
2 X’s a week X’s 6 grocery/veggie bags X’s 52 weeks =624 less bags
Reusable sandwich/freezer bags
Glass & silicone storage keeps leftovers fresh & travels easily. Rinse or throw in the dishwasher, repeat.
Sandwich, freezer bag quick Math
3 X’s a week X’s 3 bags X’s 52 weeks = 468 less baggies
Glass versus Plastic Recycling… Or Aluminum
Glass or aluminum containers –
While we are not big soda drinkers, we do enjoy flavored waters like Bai, Ice, Smart water; all of which come in plastic containers. Fortunately there are several alternative products packaged in Aluminum or glass containers. While not perfect, it’s far easier to recycle glass or aluminum containers than plastic. About 80% of recovered glass & 45% of Aluminum is recycled into new containers. As Aluminum is very light, it also has the benefit of a small carbon footprint when transporting it to market. At the heart of the problem, plastic hovers around a 9% recycle rate, leaving mountains of plastic trash. Choose beverages that come in glass or Aluminum whenever possible!
4 drinks a week X’s 52 weeks = 208 less plastic bottles
Biodegradable versus Compostable bags
Trash bags are tricky as they need to be strong and still break down in a reasonable timeframe. We located a few good options: One is made from 70% recycled plastic & the other is made from plantbased materials, allowing it to break down and be compostable.
Some of our research suggests not all compost stations will accept compostable trash bags. If your a dedicated composter, check with your local waste hauler.
3 trash bags a week X’s 52 weeks = 156 less bags
Bottled water versus Tap
As a personal choice, when on travel outside the U.S, and in remote, rural locations, we consume bottled water. However, when at home & traveling the US there is a wealth of available information out there that would suggest tap water, regulated by the EPA & FDA, is quite safe to drink.
Here’s a link to check on your cities tap water quality as well as recommendations on home filtration systems, should your cities water not be up to snuff. If your city has a handle on the water supply or the addition of a filtration system makes sense, tap water & a reusable container are the most eco-friendly route to go.
If the need to reach for a bottled water is a must, perhaps consider “Boxed water” While still producing one & done waste, boxed water containers are paper based and very recyclable!
Want pure clean water when you’re on the go? Check out the LARQ self cleaning & water purifying water bottles! Clever UV light cleaning system…
Replacing One & done plastic equates to roughly 1,768 fewer plastic items tossed in the trash as a family, annually
Replace end of life products with Eco-Friendly versions
While we’ve made some headway with eco-friendly substitutions, many of the products we still use everyday haven’t quite reached their end of life. It’s just not practical to toss these products from a cost or environmental standpoint. So, for the time being, we’ll continue to use these products, with an eye to replacing them with eco-friendly versions & manufacturers who are moving to a “Zero waste” model.
“Zero Waste” Product Companies
So what is Zero waste… Zero waste is a philosophy that utilizes the implementation of strategy, resources, and innovative tools in order to completely eliminate waste rather than manage it via landfill. Zero waste companies are not only beneficial for the environment but also the economy and many communities around the world. – Rubicon site
There is an ever growing list of large corporations that have adopted a “Zero waste” strategy. Making Zero waste products involves generating no waste in the manufacturing process, being carbon neutral in terms of energy expended, not generating additional corporate waste and recycling all components of a product, when it reaches end of life. It’s a lofty goal and many corporations are well on their way to achieving it.
Subaru, GM, Toyota, Google, Microsoft, Sierra Nevada Beer are just a few companies hitting the mark!
Unilever, and Procter & Gamble are moving aggressively to a zero waste model as well.
Apple and Samsung (while not there yet) are working to have every component that goes into new cell phones, laptops etc… come from recycled resources.
Rewarding those corporations that are making the effort with your loyalty will certainly encourage other manufacturers to follow suit
Did we miss some obvious products? Obvious fixes? Email us at Whatsup@jauntylife.com and we’ll add an addendum to the story!