The first half of Plastic Free July has passed and you are probably overwhelmed for a couple of reasons. One, is either you never heard of something called “zero waste living” and the whole concept of being “Plastic Free” is totally foreign to you so you don’t know where to begin. Or you know all about plastic-free July, but it’s been really hard to keep it up for 30 straight days. This is where we come in.
“Easy come, easy go” this is so true especially when it comes to adopting new habits. We go in headstrong and want to be the best at whatever new concept we’re trying out (in this case, Zero Waste living), but then we burn out too fast and end up quitting what we started before it became part of our lifestyle. That’s why we asked the resourceful Eman Mossallam from the “Zero Waste Egypt” account, that is Egypt-based to tell us her 5 top easy tips on how to start your zero waste plastic-free journey in a way that slowly integrates this type of lifestyle in your daily ventures without it being too much of a burden so you can sustain it. If you want to know why you should go plastic-free in the first place, wait until the end of the article.
One of the simplest and easiest ways you can eliminate a huge part of your plastic consumption is just by kindly saying “No” to plastic bags at supermarkets and in shopping stores. The average shopper uses from 15-20 plastic bags in a single weekly grocery shopping haul, can you imagine how much plastic you’ll be NOT using (thus you won’t be contributing to the need for more plastic production in the world). Just by bringing your own reusable bag to the grocery store, or the shopping mall, you can help reduce up to 80 plastic bags per month (that’s not including the occasional plastic bag for those two water bottles you got on an idle Tuesday from the kiosk), you get the picture. Mossallam suggests getting cute reusable bags at places like H&M, Ikea, or even making your own, that way you’ll always remember to take them with you because we all know the allure of having a nice bag (guys we know you like them too, there’s no hiding it).
Speaking of plastic water bottles bought at the kiosk, that’s another area you can reduce your plastic consumption in. Use a reusable glass water bottle. I understand that right now the plastic reusable water bottles are more available and are sort of cheaper than buying aluminum or glass bottles, but just because you can reuse this plastic bottle it doesn’t mean it’s essentially helping the problem. We ultimately want to stop the production of as many mass-produced plastic products as much as possible, not just keep reusing or upcycling them. Not to mention that drinking from plastic containers or even cardboard cups that are lined with plastic is not good for your health because even if it says “BPA Free” it still leaches endocrine disruptors which are chemicals that interfere with your hormones.
So to stay safe and keep your planet (the only one you”ll ever have) safe, just by purchasing an aluminum or glass water bottle that you can find on online stores like Jumia or home decor places like Ikea, Tulip, and Decathlon. I personally love aluminum because it keeps your water cold all day long which is a major plus in this summer heat.
Another simple “No” that you can use that will do all the difference! You might think how harmful can this small piece of plastic be, mightly harmful my friend. This one straw can find its way to the ocean (where most waste calls home, unfortunately), and can either be swallowed by a sea creature mistaking it for a worm or wrapped around a growing baby turtle inhibiting its growth, ultimately leading to its death. So you’re not just saving the Earth from one extra piece of plastic, you’re saving all sea life creatures from this oddly deadly plastic contraption (that we don’t actually need) because drinking from straws has a lot of bad side effects healthwise. For instance, drinking from a straw lets in more air in your digestive system, causing bloatedness and giving you gas, which nobody wants.
Instead of going to your favorite coffee shop and buying coffee from a cardboard cup that is lined with plastic (a fact most people don’t know), get your favorite travel mug (that can hold hot drinks of course) and ask the barista if they can fill it with your order. Most of the time they’ll have no problem and will eagerly do as you asked, plus it’s a great conversation started, so you can save the planet and get to know a little bit more about the people sharing it with you.
You probably think what does that have to do with plastic? Most of the time, you’ll get “hungry” in the middle of your workday, and since you didn’t pack your lunch you’ll resort to “Take Out”. To answer your probable question, I’ll simply ask you to look closely at the packaging your take outcomes in, how many items are covered in plastic? You either use plastic utensils to eat your takeout or it’s wrapped in plastic packaging, or the food itself that you order is plastic (just kidding, but seriously though most junk food really does taste like plastic sometimes compared to real healthy homemade food). So you see, by packing your lunch, you get to choose the glass or aluminum containers that you’ll be storing your food in, and you’ll be able to reduce a huge amount of plastic on a daily basis. This way the planet and your wallet will thank you for it (let’s face it, take out is no longer the cheaper option)
In case you thought the plastic you use on a daily basis, decomposes and disappears after leaving your home, we’d like to tell you that every single piece of plastic that was ever made is still in EXISTENCE until this day, and it will probably outlive us all because plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose which means by the year 2050 (that’s almost just 30 years from now) there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish (we’ll give you a minute to let that sink in). Plastic never disintegrates (not in our lifetime anyway, nor that of our grandchildren either or their children, you get the idea) while other forms of waste could be used as compost to fertilize plants and trees, plastic can’t be used that way. This is why it really is important to at least start using these simple tips and integrate them into your daily life till they become part of who you are, then you can graduate to take bigger steps. If you already do all these things and want even more daily tips on zero waste living you can find all that you need over at “Zero Waste Egypt“, and let’s all strive to be better, more helpful and kinder to our planet, the only one we’ll ever call home.