Simple Ways YOU Can Ditch "Disposable" Plastic
Written by Julia Valencikova, Edited by Aurora Hinz
Plastic is not fantastic. It’s convenient, of course. Most of us know this from personal experience. As a kid, I saw my mom buy plastic Poland Spring water bottles, Capri Suns, double bagged Plastic shopping bags, filled with plastic wrapped fruits and vegetables. Then, as a young adult, I quickly fell into the convenience of quick to go food wrapped in plastic, smoothies in plastic cups, and coffee in plastic lined coffee cups. It was a dangerous dependency that I had to break off.
Why? Because although plastic is the “most” convenient material out there for us humans, it is not the most convenient for our planet. Plastic is seen as this magical material that can do so much and be so versatile. It’s time we start asking, at what cost. It needs to be doused with chemicals that get absorbed by our bodies, end up in the ocean eaten by wildlife, sit in landfills for 450 years leaking into our groundwater, and so much more. In reality, this is convenient for no one at all. It harms us, animals, and our planet. I’d say it’s definitely much, much, MUCH less than fantastic. Honestly, I dislike the word fantastic because it rhymes with plastic.
Anyways, here are some fun and easy ways to ditch that pesky plastic. No “my cat is sick” or “I’m moving to another state” lies needed to get rid of this one!
I used to love the idea of holding to-go coffee cups. I had this vision of myself as an adult sitting at an outdoor cafe with a paper coffee cup in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. I watched a lot of french movies at the time and don't do either of those things now because turns out, coffee cup culture isn’t that fabulous and all of them are lined with a plastic resin. The plastic resin makes the paper cup way more durable and less likely to leak, but at the same time, it leaks chemicals into the hot liquids that we sip on, can’t be recycled, and sits for what feels like forever in a landfill.
Ecoffee cup is a bamboo and silicone based coffee cup. It features all the cute paper cup details from lid to sleeve, with none of that gross plastic. I got two compliments from complete strangers on a block in Brooklyn about this coffee cup. When has a paper coffee cup ever done that?
Why do these exist? I have no idea. Plastic utensils are light and can be disposed of with a simple toss into a garbage can, but just as easily, you can carry around a reusable bamboo utensil kit. A cheaper, D.I.Y alternative is mix and matched silverware. I took from my own kitchen drawer, but you can also thrift them!
I recently read that bars give you two cocktail straws in cocktail drinks because one straw doesn’t flow fast enough, so two straws is just right. I can't even picture how many cocktail straws alone must be floating in our oceans! Vacation pics by the ocean won’t be so glamorous for much longer if we continue polluting at this rate. Luckily, stainless steel straws are a great alternative for all your tall and short drinks.
I mean this one is sooooo easy. “Totes ma goats” it and just become a crazy tote bag lady or gent. Roll up your tote bag into your backpack or purse and just pull it out at the checkout counter. Many stores now offer a small discount for bringing your own bag. Hey, guess what else, you don’t even need to buy a new tote bag! In 15 minutes, you can turn a t-shirt into a grocery bag. Yes, you heard that right, free and easy up-cycled alternative to evil plastic bags. Oh, and you’re simultaneously saving an old shirt from going into a landfill. Effortlessly crushing this plastic free game.
I saved the scariest one for last. Little fun fact, polyester is made from plastic, like plastic cups plastic, made from crude oil. We put that on top of our skin and put our faces on it at night. Oh and I’m not finished, we then put it in the wash, where millions of plastic microfibers break free from it and travel far and wide to reach our oceans. Yeah it just got f*cking worse. Not only are we absorbing plastic through our skin, now we’re eating it through our fish and drinking it. Does this not piss you off? Because I’m pissed off and that’s why in January I promised to only buy things made from all natural fibers.
The most important thing to remember whether you’re going plastic free, zero waste, polyester free, or whatever it may be, is that its all a journey. The journey is long, full of exploration, reflection and sometimes, it can get hard. You may leave your ecoffee cup on a subway bench the first time, and then in a taxi cab the second time, like I remarkably did. You may give in to a free meal offered to you in plastic. This is A-OKAY. Being conscious of your actions and choices is the first step, the biggest step, and better than taking no step at all. So be easy on yourself, have fun with your plastic free solutions and spread the message about how easy it can be!