Fresh Fruits in Madrid

Recycling Part 3 – 10 Ways to reduce your plastics

Seeing news from polluted beaches and animals starving and dying with stomachs full of plastic waste, are pictures I’d rather avoid. If we want to make them disappear we can ignore newspapers and turn off the internet or start thinking about how we can help the earth to get rid of plastic waste. I believe strongly in the power of each person to make little changes which may lead to big ones one day.

As I have written before, it is up to each of us to make our lives better and the earth we live in a better place. Before we join a beach cleaning group or start demonstrating for more ecological politics we might want to have a look around in our house. I am sure we all shop and store plastic without realising how much it is in total and which could be replaced by glass or cans. In the following I want to point out 10 ways on how I reduced my plastic waste by shopping for alternatives.

  1. I am a yogurt person and I used to by my non-ecological greek yogurt in a six pack of 125g plastic cups, now I switched to ecological full-fat yogurt in a glass jar. This works also very good with milk, honey and marmalade.
  2. When shopping it is very easy to accumulate plastic bags, I love to look chic and some years ago I got me a hand-crafted shopping basket from Morocco and use it since then. My farmer knows by now that I prefer my shopping to be packed directly into my basket without extra plastic bags.
  3.   Traveling can be a pain when you just have carry-on luggage. With the 100ml restrictions it is really difficult to only buy shampoos and other cosmetic products in big packages and reduce the plastic waste. Soap doesn’t really work for everybody either. I got myself 100ml reusable plastic bottles I can fill up every time I travel from my bigger packages. Avoid the small shampoo, deo and face cream bottles made for traveling with carry-on luggage at the supermarkets. Even though there are small products, most of them end up in the trash afterwards as plastic waste of the worst kind.
  4. Hidden plastics are really mean and you can check out my article on reducing hidden plastics here.
  5. I love to store and reuse. When buying furniture that is wrapped in protective plastic and carton I try to keep this material stored somewhere in case I can reuse it. Every time I move reusing these things saves me money and plastic.
  6. Take-aways are a great invention and I couldn’t live without them. The plastic packages they give me at my favourite sushi place are the down-side of it. If possible eat at the take-away/restaurant instead of taking home more than you really want ( in this case the plastics).
  7. Getting bread at the bakery, eating home-made cookies and shopping at places where they pack your goods in paper or a small amount of plastic is a good way for me to reduce my amount of plastics.
  8. Buy music and movies online and go to your bookstore for books. CD’s and DVD’s (some of you might remember) are packed in more plastic than they actually need and buying them online reduces the plastic waste to zero. Books bought online are packed in plastic (Amazon sends them in carton, which I admire) while buying at bookstores they come pure, without any packaging most of the times. Libraries are much better though. The less you ship the more eco-friendly you are.
  9. Even though I said before that soap doesn’t work for everyone, you should try it yourself before judging. I like the soaps from Lush and The Body Shop and you should also have a look at the article from SmallerFootprints on soaps.
  10. Whenever you shop have a look on how much plastic you accumulate and ask yourself if you can reduce this by choosing another product. I don’t buy orange juice and press it myself from fresh oranges, for example. It is often a bigger effort but once we manage it going back is becoming impossible as we would have to give up the benefits of a more healthy lifestyle.

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