Becoming Game Changers for the Environment: Living with Less Plastic
You can’t avoid it. Everywhere you turn, it’s there! Heading to the grocery store? It’s there. Having a night out at a restaurant? It’s there. Meeting a friend for coffee? It’s there. PLASTIC is everywhere!
You can’t avoid the use of plastic but you can certainly limit the usage and exposure effectively through certain practices. Your efforts in living with less plastic don’t go to waste! It’s easy to think, “it’s just one bag, it should be fine.” However, every decision you make to live with less plastic, big or small, does make a difference!
“A little progress each day, adds up to big results.”
God has blessed us with a beautiful planet. He’s given each of us an opportunity to take care of its environment and His people. Striving to live life with less plastic is a noble and worthwhile goal.
Don’t worry, living with less plastic is not that hard! You can take small steps of change that will help make a difference in the NT community and the world.
To help you in your journey of living with less plastic, here are 9 simple and effective ways to get you started:
1. Bring your own shopping bag
Heading to the grocery store or going shopping at the mall? Bring your own shopping bag with you. Plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down. Invest your money, time and effort into buying reusable bags that suit you.
One of the most common problems for reusable shopping bags is that people forget them. An easy way to remember is to buy multiple bags and placing them in different areas. For example, place one by your front door, in your handbag or even in the boot of your car. This way, you’ll always have a bag ready. In the case that you do forget (it’s okay, it happens), try and see if you can manage without taking a single-use plastic bag.
2. Store leftovers in glass jars
Plastic containers increase the risk of toxins being released onto your food/drink. Glass is a safe food storage option and can easily be repurposed. You can also repurpose glass that’s been used for other things like jam or honey.
3. Carry a reusable water bottle
Take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go! The best options for water bottles are made from stainless steel or glass because they are easier to clean and you can avoid using plastic.
In Australia, we have the privilege of drinking tap water. You can usually refill your water bottles at your local gym, work and home.
4. Bring your own cup
In this world, everyone is busy moving from one commitment to the next. Many people enjoy taking five minutes to enjoy a coffee/tea break on-the-go. However, if most people have 1-3 cups of coffee/tea per day, this can have devastating consequences for our environment. You can do your part in helping the planet by simply bringing your own reusable cup or insulated bottle.
In fact, some coffee shops encourage you to bring your own cup and offer discounts if you do so. A popular option is the KeepCup but any cup that helps you avoid using disposable cups will make a difference.
5. Pack your lunch in reusable containers
There are several reasons for you to bring your own lunch to school, work or even outdoor activities. You can save money and make healthier lunch choices if you take your lunch with you. Take-away usually involves the usage of single-use plastic packaging. Pack your lunch in a stainless steel thermo, bento box or glass container. This is helpful for the environment and it also reduces the risk of toxins from plastic slipping into your food.
6. Say no to disposable straws and cutlery
Similar to single-use plastic bags, disposable straws and cutlery are among the worst plastic culprits. They are only used once for a couple of minutes and thrown away, building up in the landfills, waterways and oceans.
You can say no by simply purchasing stainless steel cutlery and keep them in your lunch box so you don’t forget them. Another option could be bamboo cutlery. As for straws, you can buy reusable stainless steel straws or even glass straws. Be sure to tell the staff at the restaurant or coffee shop that you’ve got your own straw so they can avoid using one.
7. Slow down and dine in
With everyone busy these days, it’s good to slow down and enjoy your food/break time. Takeaway food is often packaged in plastic. By dining in, you save the use for plastic and you get to enjoy a meal in the midst of a busy day. If you don’t have the time to stop for a meal, bring an empty stainless steel/glass container and see if the cafe or restaurant would be willing to fill it for you.
Keep an empty stainless steel/glass container in the office for days when you forget or don’t have time to sit down for a meal.
8. Skip the plastic produce bags at your grocery store
You know, those plastic bags that we tear off and use to place fruit or vegetables in? Most of us have formed the habit of doing so and it’s easy to not even realise it. However, if you think about it – do you really need one?
If you buy lots of fruits and vegetables, consider buying a mesh bag to take along with you. They are lightweight and you can avoid using the single-use produce bags. Include it inside your reusable shopping bag so you don’t forget it.
9. Share your journey with friends
Share your experience on social media or when you’re talking to friends. You don’t need to go into their lifestyle choices, instead share why you are choosing a life with less plastic. You never know who you can inspire to live with less plastic, so raise awareness in your community and on social media.
Be innovative, creative and have fun! Find ways to live with less plastic that actually suits your lifestyle. You will have more success if you can tweak and customise your alternative options. Most importantly, remember your “why” every time you get frustrated with living with less plastic. When you remember that you are making a difference in the environment and reducing your contribution to plastic waste, it’s easier to enjoy using less plastic!
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