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Towards Plastic-Free Living: Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

The status of plastic's impact on our environment in 2023

Like me this year, I’m sure you’ll be concerned about the ongoing impact of plastic on our environment.

Plastic pollution has caused significant harm to our ecosystems, from the oceans to the land. The World Wildlife Fund reports that by 2050, more plastic will be in the oceans than fish, and plastic pollution will have tripled.

Having long been conscious of the effect of plastic on the environment, many of us have been reducing our use of plastic, finding alternatives and recycling. However, plastic lurks in some of the most unlikely items.

Here we will examine the “hidden” plastics in more detail and offer some alternatives you might enjoy trying!

Photo by Karina Tess on Unsplash

Different types of plastic and their effect

Understanding the different types of plastic and their effects is the first step in reducing our plastic consumption. There are various types of plastic, and each one has a different effect on the environment.

For instance, polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) takes over 500 years to break down, and it is not biodegradable.

When these materials are improperly disposed of, they break down into microplastics, which are ingested by wildlife and ultimately harm our food chain.

Reducing the use of the most harmful plastics first might be one place to start.

Hidden plastic pollution unveiled: the plastic culprits lurking in our homes

We are all aware of the plastic items around our homes such as bottles, toothbrushes and other everyday items.

Many of us are already finding alternative products. However, various everyday items contain plastic which we may not be aware of, and they take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

In many cases these may cause health issues due to the plastic they contain, here are just some examples:

Zero waste champions

To take this movement a step further, it is interesting to look at some of the trailblazers who are minimizing their waste and leading almost a zero-waste lifestyle. One zero-waste champion is Laure Huys, an inspiration to all of us who are trying to reduce our plastic consumption.

Laure has been living an almost zero-waste lifestyle for 5 years. She shares tips and coaching services on more sustainable living practices, please refer to her Instagram account for details.

Another interesting champion Katherine Kellogg who shares lots of practical tips for zero-waste living. Her website includes zero-waste tips for the home, food and beauty.

Image source: Canva

How to avoid hidden plastic in daily life

So, what can we do to reduce our plastic consumption? Here are some practical tips to try:

1. Refuse single-use plastic - this includes straws, cutlery, and plastic bags. Instead, bring your reusable alternatives. Always carry reusable bags, bottles, and containers. Try using a furoshiki next time you need to wrap a gift or carry items – it’s so convenient!

2. Support companies with plastic-free packaging - choose to buy from companies that use sustainable and biodegradable packaging or no packaging at all. This list shows just some of the zero-waste grocery stores in Singapore.

3. Swap plastic items for eco-friendly alternatives - opt for bamboo toothbrushes, glass food storage containers, and metal razors. The Sustainability Project has some interesting options.

4. Use bar soap and shampoo bars instead of bottled products - Bar soap and shampoo bars are an excellent alternative to bottled products, and they are often sold without plastic packaging. They usually last longer and produce less waste.

5. Avoid plastic-wrapped produce - When shopping for produce, choose items that are not pre-packaged in plastic. Instead, opt for loose produce that you can place in your reusable bags and containers. Little Farms and wet markets are great places to find fresh produce without the packaging.

6. Choose natural fiber clothing - Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, are made from plastic fibers that can release microplastics during washing. Opt for natural fiber clothing, such as cotton or linen. This list contains some great sustainable fashion brands.

7. Say no to plastic gift cards - Plastic gift cards are often not recyclable and can take hundreds of years to decompose. Select e-gift cards or gift cards made from recycled materials.

8. Reduce your online shopping packaging - When shopping online, choose retailers that use minimal packaging or eco-friendly packaging materials. You can also request that they ship your items without plastic wrap where possible. There’s even an award in Singapore for companies that reduce packaging waste!

9. Choose natural cleaning products - Many cleaning products come in plastic containers and contain harsh chemicals. Seek natural cleaning products that come in glass or metal containers. Singapore-based brand Ollie for example sells natural cleaning (and beauty) products packed in recycled plastic bottles.

10. Create your own makeup and toiletry products – try this fabulous idea for aloe vera moisturizer or homemade mascara.

Reducing our plastic consumption may seem overwhelming, but every little step counts towards a better future for our planet. Going zero on plastic may not be possible for us all to achieve.

But, by becoming more mindful of the products we use, supporting companies that prioritize sustainability, and making simple switches in our daily routines, we can all play a part in reducing plastic pollution.

Together, we can create the push and make a difference.

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