Putting something in the trashcan means it disappears, right?
That's what we've been taught our whole lives. It's what we do as humans. We consume as we please and discard with no thought to where it's going.
The problem with chronic discarding is, one day, we'll realize the trash didn't just disappear. One day, it will come back to haunt us.
We are living in that day.
You could argue it's too late for the planet. You could also argue the small things you do won't make a dent in the destruction we face. Let me tell you, it's definitely not too late, and every tiny thing you do makes a difference.
Innovative solutions are popping up left and right, but that doesn't mean we should sit around and wait for someone else to fix the planet.
First of all, that's called giving up.
And secondly, THAT WON'T WORK.
We're all in this together. We can and will create a revolution, greater than any machine could ever achieve.
To do this, we all have to adjust our habits. Not just some of us. All of us.
Here are 3 easy ways to start right now.
Ditch the plastic bags
This problem is so bad states are working to ban plastic bags and/or charge fees for using them. We've heard this time and again. If you're still using plastic bags and not recycling them, right now is the time to stop.
Too much is being said about this issue. There are no more excuses.
The good news is you can BYOB (bring your own bag).
Reusable bags are well-made these days, not to mention in abundance. I personally keep 3 in my car - a freezer zip bag and 2 sturdy cloth bags.
And you can use them for anything. Not just groceries.
Most recently, my roommate bought me some great reusable produce bags with drawstrings. They're well-made and machine washable. Perfect for the farmers market and the grocery store.
Question: How would you feel about eating a plastic bag for lunch?
Not only do plastic bags trap wildlife, they look like food to some animals. In particular, sea turtles thrive on a diet of plastic bag lookalikes...jellyfish.
You can help end these plastic deaths. Choose reusable every time.
Say "no thanks" to plastic straws
We throw away 500 million plastic straws every single day in the U.S. Let that sink in.
500 MILLION. EVERY. DAY.
Plastic straws are not recyclable. So why in the world are we using them like they are?
Thanks to Lonely Whale, a solution is coming soon. But for the time being, I put my straws in a jar in my closet. (yes, for real)
The best way to stop this problem is to act. And influence others with your actions.
When you're out to dinner or at a bar, tell the waiter to skip the straws when you order drinks. Some waiters automatically put one in your drink. It's your responsibility to stop them before they have the chance and to tell them why.
If you're a soda drinker, keep a two-liter at home for takeout days. This makes it easy to pass up the to-go drink that requires a plastic straw and cup.
And if you end up with a plastic straw anyway, keep it. There will be a time when we can safely dispose of plastic straws, but, as of now, there is no solution.
Think about it, if you're saying no to straws, the number of straws you accidentally accumulate will be minimal and easy to hold onto without cluttering your life.
Make today your last straw.
For those of you who need straws:
Some great alternatives are already available. Silicone, glass, bamboo, and paper. You can easily stash one in your purse or car. Try them out and let me know what you think!
I just ordered these from Aardvark Straws. I'll let you know how that goes.
...and plastic utensils
Just like straws, plastic utensils are detrimental to our environment and all the animals in it. We are essentially sentencing creation to death-by-plastic.
A plastic utensil is created from a material that lasts a lifetime, yet it's "disposable" after just a few minutes of use.
Luckily, we have sustainable solutions to this problem.
Keep a multi-utensil in your car for takeout. I have one similar to this, but I bought mine locally. This enables you to hand back the plastic at a restaurant. Or save it for your plastic stash at home.
For birthday parties and get-togethers, opt for a more eco-friendly option.
Again, it's all about adopting small changes and then influencing others to do the same.
Spread the word: Our days of single-use plastics are over.
Order less takeout
To-go trash is epic.
On one occasion, I ordered a wrap to-go. When I picked it up, it was wrapped in paper, packaged in a styrofoam container, and placed in a plastic bag with plastic utensils.. WHAT! I took the wrap out and handed all the other crap back through the window. All with a smile, of course.
Not all restaurants "get it" yet. But we can help them understand. Turn away the excess, and tell them why.
Look for ways to cut down your takeout trash. Bring your own container. Ask for no bag, plasticware, or anything unnecessary. And if you're feeling brave, tell them why. "Is all of this necessary for one wrap? It's very wasteful and hurts the environment."
Who knows, you may be talking to the person who can actually do something about it.
Now tell someone else
It's urgent we band together to create a revolution. Our oceans, land, water, animals...they need us to unify.
Show people with your actions, and explain why you're "different." Every conversation or question is an opportunity to influence, not judge or cut down.
If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it - join us in changing small habits that add up to big change.