Plastic is everywhere. Think about how many times each day you encounter it. We either use it, or something we want to use is packaged inside of it. Plastic is nearly impossible to avoid it also wields a double edged sword. Plastic is incredibly convenient, cheaper to recycle than other alternatives, yet plastic is incredibly wasteful.
In the United States alone, we plow through 1,500 plastic bottles ever single second. Plastic water bottles take 100 years to break down. The brutal truth is that less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled each year; most of it makes its way to landfills or oceans. Just under 300,000 tons of plastic wastes makes its way to our oceans each year. In case you forgot, plastic bottles and bags are all derived from petroleum.
Each year 12 million barrels of oil are utilized just to make plastic bags in the United States. After plastic finally breaks down it releases a dangerous concoction of toxins that end up in our water, in our air, or ingested by our wildlife…and by humans. Microplastics are nearly undetectable and can sneak through water treatment plants and make their way back to the greater watershed.
Taking all of this into consideration, the Appetite for Peace staff recommends the following suggestions to cut back on the plastic addiction and the negative impacts to the environment that come with it. Some of these are no brainers, and some will require some outside the box thinking.
1. Skip the Plastic Produce and Bulk Item Bags
This is the easiest solution of all; simply bring your bulk balks with you to the store. This does require some forethought as to what exactly you will be purchasing.
2. Use Coffee Grounds to Exfoliate
Most of the “fancy”exfoliating body and face washes are made out of plastic micro beads. A single tube or canister of face wash may contain as many as 300,000 microbeads. These microbeads then enter the water system down the drain. This is not ideal for marine or human life. Use coconut oil or avocado mixed with coffee grounds for a better result for you and the environment.
3. Make Your Own Toothpaste
You heard that right, swap out your store brand for a DIY toothpaste. Not only will you keep another plastic tube from being used, you will also keep more plastic microbeads from entering the water system, as they are often used as “extra whitening” ingredients. You can make your own toothpaste in a mason jar with water baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint oil.
4. Swap Plastic Deodorizers for Essential Oils
Essential oils often last longer and do not contain all of the dangerous hidden toxins that plastic room deodorizers contain. A few drops on cardboard near the cat litter box, or inside the toilet roll in the bath room will keep the rooms with a fresh scent for longer than a store bought option.
5. Use a Pressure Cooker to Avoid BPA-Lined Cans
Canned beans are main stay in any kitchen, vegetarian or carnivore for that matter. Tin cans may sound like a much better option than plastic packaging. However the tin cans are often lined with Bispenol-A (BPA), which is synonymous with endocrine disruptor. The BPA is used to keep the tin cans from rusting, but has other consequences as well. An alternative is to soak dried beans when you go to bed, then put them in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Plastic-free beans! What is not used can be frozen for another day.
6. Store Produce in Towels Instead of Plastic
Plastic containers are a major detriment to the environment and present several health concerns. You can be kind to your body and the environment by simply swapping out plastic containers and bags for a clean dish towel or a cloth. This will still keep your produce crispy and fresh. Carrots, green beans, zucchini, parsnips, and leeks last a long time when you wrap them in a damp towel and store them in your crisper.
7. Use Coconut Oil and Castille Soap to Replace Shampoo and Conditioner
Here is the easiest solution to the dilemma of refilling plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles: don’t use any of these plastic resin laden, silicone and wax laced shampoos and conditioners. Eliminating the plastic shampoo/conditioner bottles sounds strange to many, until you consider that coconut oil and Castille soap offer better, healthier alternatives. Take your hair to the next level of shine and moisture by pre-conditioning with coconut oil and then washing out with Castille soap.