What’s in for 2020?
So by now we are a couple weeks into the new year, and everyone’s resolutions have either been going well, or they haven’t.. I spoke with a few of my friends and colleagues this year about if they had any resolutions or habits they wished to change. There answers were pretty typical: “I want to get fit,” and “I want to learn how to say no and spend time with myself.” One answer in particular caught my attention, “I want to reduce my waste.”
Plastic is out.
If you follow along with any news related to the global plastic crisis, you’ve probably seen articles related to how plastic is out in 2020, and it is up to consumers to be more conscious than ever because recycling is fake, the ocean temperature is at an all time high, and big business doesn’t give a s***. With all of this having a solemn legitimacy to it, it’s easy to get discouraged in this spiraling pessimistic mindset (I know I did.) So you want to do something about it? Understandable.
Reduce, Reuse, Refuse.
That’s right, reduce, reuse, recycle is out.. the main reason? Recycling is not working. Does this mean you should give up on recycling entirely, of course not. But know that only 9% of plastic ever created has actually ever been recycled. Even ‘recycled plastic’ products are typically made still using virgin plastic. Now obviously it’s not only ‘up to consumers’ to solve the plastic crisis, but the more people who ‘reduce, reuse, refuse’, the more systems within our society will begin to change/adapt. Want to know how to adopt this lifestyle? Keep reading..
Maybe you’ve already taken a few steps towards reducing your waste this year. You’ve stopped buying plastic water bottles, started remembering your reusable grocery bags. If you are ready to take this a step further and really analyze your consumption habits and waste production this year, here are a 5 things to pay attention to and ultimately avoid in 2020. I am warning you, once you begin becoming mindful of plastic, you will not be able to un-see…you may not even register these things as being plastic! And believe me, it’s everywhere.
5 Things to Avoid in 2020
You May Not Even Realize These are Plastic!
1. Single Use Products
This includes single use plastic items that are marketed as ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’. This my friends, is a classic case of greenwashing. These items may be made with corn, sugarcane or bamboo, but that doesn’t mean they are easier to get rid of. Sure, they may be compostable, but only in industrial facilities. More often than not they are not ending up in the correct place to even be composted. Plus, if they are dirty and have food scraps, the facilities can’t take them anyway. While the idea may be worth pursuing, don’t be fooled into thinking that biodegradable/compostable plastics are ‘green’. We have a WASTE problem. The only solution? Creating and using less waste.
Single Use Products lined with plastic
This one goes along with Eco-Products because there is a common misconception that because something is made of paper or aluminum, it does not have plastic. Unfortunately, in most cases this is not true.
That’s right. All those Starbucks cups and other to-go coffee cups are lined with a very thin layer of polyethylene or PET plastic. This goes for water paper cups and soda fountain drink cups too. Not only do chemicals leach into your beverage, but they are often not recyclable. Do you drink canned soda, beer, or seltzer waters? Unfortunately you’re not off the hook. Aluminum cans are also lined with plastic. Although they are most always recyclable, the plastic lining has unknown health concerns. My advice? Avoid.
What to do instead?
Avoid all single use plastics – Whether they claim to be compostable/biodegradable or not.
Buy a reusable water bottle – and use it: Simple as that.
Bring your own cup/thermos: Personally I like to do both at the same time. This way I can use my mug, and keep my tea (I’m a tea drinker) hot for longer. Plus, you never know when you’re going to need it – so I make sure to have them on me at all times.
*Tip for the excessive*
*You can put so much more than just coffee/tea in a reusable cup! I’ll use my mug for ice cream at fast food restaurants, water, even takeaway items when I forget my reusable glass tupperware!*
2. Produce Bags
My biggest pet peeve is the plastic produce bag used at the grocery store that segregates your potatoes from your onions. I’ll see people all the time using their reusable bag at the checkout – yet their entire bag is filled with smaller plastic bags to ‘protect and separate’ their produce. Nothing grinds my gears more. Ask anyone.
What to do instead?
Bring your own produce bags: The UnEARTH Netted Bag works for a whole variety of produce options. If you don’t yet have a bag you can use for produce, try saving old yogurt containers to put your mushrooms in or an old coffee bag to put those deliciously beautiful chocolates they have in the bulk section. You can even transfer them to your up-cycled jars at home if you’d like. The point is BYOB and reuse.
Go Naked: I’m serious… your apples and oranges do not need their own bags. Hell, they don’t need any bag at all. Try it. If you’re worried about the ‘dirty carts’ wash your produce when you get it home. Most likely, you already wash it anyway, and to be really honest I would rather the germs in the cart than the chemicals that make up that plastic bag (yuck!)
Beeswraps: Whether or not you are involved in the zero-waste craze happening, you may or may not have been exposed to Beeswraps. These are adorable fabrics with a coating of beeswax and oils that serve as an alternative for shrink wrap and plastic baggies. They keep food fresher for longer, and you can take them on the go; grocery shopping, camping, etc. The best part about them? We just started selling them on our site!! You can purchase them here. I love these Beeswraps in particular because they have just the right amount of cling – which is something I’ve found to be important. The bagz are awesome if you haven’t tried these yet, I put my cheeses, onions, snacks, – but I can also cover my pies with it! I’m all for multi-purpose items.
*Tip for the excessive*
* I don’t yet make my own bread – I still buy it in stores, but they ALL come with plastic packaging. I buy baguettes packaged in a paper bag/plastic bag and bring a linen bag to the market with me. When I get up to checkout I give them the bread packaging to scan at checkout, and transfer the loaf to my linen bag. I ask them if they can reuse the packaging for later loafs. The answer is yes 100% of the time.*
Now I am a DIY kind of person; I make our shampoo, sinus rinse, pasta sauce, you name it. But sometimes, I just want to go to the store and buy some damn salsa. Now with most everything in the grocery stores, you have options. So I walk down the salsa isle, and there are 17 different salsa’s to choose from; chunky, spicy, mango, you name it. But, I challenge you to walk down your salsa isle, sauce isle, most preserved food in a jar, and see if you can tell which have a thin layer of plastic over their labels. What I will tell you is that it significantly eliminates your options.
What to do?
Choose to purchase jarred/canned items that do not promote plastic packaging: This is easier said than done, and can be extremely frustrating when shopping for food. The point of this is to get you to begin noticing how much unnecessary plastic is used in labeling and packaging. Awareness is key.
This one is HUGE. 60% of material made into clothing is made of plastic. Depending on what your clothes are made of, every single wash releases over 700,000 micro plastics into our water supply. We do not have a way to filter out plastics, so the more and more we add to our water, the more we ingest. The health effects are still unknown. Think about how many times a month you run a load of laundry… and everyone else in the world doing the same. Does that scare you? It should. LOTS of people have no idea their clothes are causing any sort of issue. This is why companies using recycled plastic to make t-shirts, may not be helping after all.
What to do?
Check the tags before you buy. Whether or not you thrift your clothes or buy them retail – know what they are made of. Make a resolution to only buy materials free of micro plastics.
Does anyone else check their mailbox only to find junk that you did not ask someone to send you? My thought process? Anyone sending me TRASH is no friend of mine – and I do not care what you are selling, if you send me a magazine wrapped in a ‘protective layer’ of plastic, I. Will. Not. Buy. If enough people call and unsubscribe – maybe they will think twice about what they are sending us.
What to do?