Hey, are you looking to cut down on your plastic waste? Well, you are at the right place for this article is all about laying the stepping stones of your plastic-free journey.
By Riya Sapra
Plastic is an interesting material. While it is durable, the amount of it in the environment today and our reliance on it makes plastic production concerning. Single-use plastic is definitely evil and has thus gained a bad name. But hey, you knew this because you are here to get rid of plastics from your life.
It may seem impossible to live a 100% plastic-free life, but as a Chinese philosopher once said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step.” I am here to help you with that.
I have been living a low waste lifestyle from the past one and a half year. My low-waste, plastic-free life may not be as aesthetic as it looks on pinterest or youtube but I definitely sleep much better knowing that I am trying. It is important to remember that trying is the most important thing you can do.
Going plastic-free is all about re-evaluating your relationship and dependence on plastics. So let’s dig in and find out how you can start your plastic-free journey.
Step 1: Observe
To begin cutting down on plastic, you first need to know how much plastic you use and rely on routinely. Spend your day as you normally do but just a little more consciously. You can either write down or collect any plastic waste that you produce during the day. It can be chips wrapper, plastic packaging, pens or just about anything because we are surrounded by plastic.
Observe how much of plastic you have, how much of it do you daily, or how rarely do you use it and why do you use this particular plastic product? Like I said before, plastic is literally all around us, we often forget about it’s existence and definitely it’s environmental impact. So observe everything or as much as you can.
Step 2: Make a list
Now that you are observing everything about plastics, it’s expected you make a list and note it all down. The how much or how little, the frequency of use, the types of plastic. Make it as comprehensive or as basic as you want. The idea is to have a better understanding of your plastic waste generation and your reliance on it. If we are thinking of going plastic-free, we first need to know what and ho much are we dealing with.
Step 3: Divide and Conquer
It is time to get all Marie Kondo on your plastic situation. Divide the plastic you made note of earlier into categories- unavoidable v/s avoidable. Further divide based on durability, or where you are using it – kitchen, bathroom, office space etc.
Now of course this process can be overwhelming, so breathe and take one area to begin with. Remember that this is just the beginning and the first step is always the hardest.
Step 4: Ideate Solutions
You know the what, how much and where- now let’s get to finding the answers on cutting it down.
Your list may have some overlaps and the items under ‘avoidable’ are an easy start and quick win. Understand what makes it avoidable?- Are they simply products you can live without? Are there plastic-free alternatives available to it? Would it make sense to switch to those alternatives?
Next comes up the unavoidable. This is going to be a bit nasty and definitely take longer to cut down on. These are products that are a part of your daily routine or are so durable that you don’t want to throw them away. So don’t.
I had a common misconception that to live a more sustainable and plastic-free life, I should immediately throw any plastic that I have. That is not true at all.
Throwing away durable plastic just defeats the whole purpose. One of the pro and con of plastic is that it lasts forever. It is important that we savour all we have and try to make it last for as long as we can. We do not want to add more waste to the wastelands.
To sum up: Avoid the avoidable, find plastic-free alternatives for your products, and use the durable plastic at home until it breaks and becomes unusable.
So, that wasn’t so difficult now, was it? Plastic-free living is a journey. It is impossible to get it right the first time but it is possible to get better at it each day.
Now that we have a list of steps, let’s look at some easy alternatives to plastic you can begin choosing and cut down on the avoidable in your list.
Plastic-free alternatives for your plastic-free journey
- Carry your own reusable products. Cloth bag, water bottle, steel cutlery or metal straws. This way you avoid getting sucked by single-use plastic products and ban their entry into your homes.
- Use what you have and then switch to plastic-free alternatives. Remember, our ultimate aim is to reduce our waste output.
- Shop loose goods from your grocery store instead of goods that come in plastic packaging. Local kinara stores provide options of purchasing by weight. So carry your own cloth pouches for your next grocery run.
- For a plastic-free bathroom: switch to a bamboo brush and shampoo bars. Plastic toothbrushes take 1000 years until they decompose. Yikes! That’s long. Cut down on plastics bottles from shampoos, conditioners and shower gels by opting for soap bars instead.
- Consider packaging plastic on your next purchase. Evaluate brands based on how much plastic they use in packaging and find brands that support plastic-free packaging.
Well, that’s it from me for now. You can always reach me on Instagram at @darenotdump or drop an email at email@example.com if you have any doubts. This plastic-free journey is not easy and having someone to share your struggles with is always helpful. Remember that each step counts and that I am so proud of you for taking yours today. All the best!
Riya is a teacher for India Fellow. She likes to read and cycle and is on a journey to reduce what she puts out into the world and is working actively towards it. Riya shares her zero waste journey on her Instagram blog called Dare not Dump. She has created content on lines of sustainability for Instagram accounts of Let me Breathe and Enactus Deshbandhu along with managing her page.