HOW TO REDUCE MY PLASTIC FOOTPRINT?

Plastic is an eye soaring problem, but cleaning it up or littering it in the appropriate bins, is not the solution to the soaring problem of the climate and health crisis it’s causing.

In affecting directly plastic pollution, the number we should focus on reducing is our plastic footprint. 

But wait, what is a “plastic footprint” anyways?

It is a measuring number of how much plastic is being contributed to the world’s plastic waste. This can include the amount of plastic being consumed as well as the amount of plastic being produced. 

It comprises everything from the office to home supplies, food, clothes, cigarettes, any type of indulgence, technology, medicine, online orders… duh… anything that we lay eyes upon is covered or contains plastic!!

Oh God, this will be hard.

As a result, reducing one's own plastic footprint and avoiding such phenomena becomes hard and more difficult than we imagined before we even pledged in doing so. However, due to the scale of the problem, immediate action is the right choice at any time!

So, how can we reduce our plastic footprint?

When we analyse the situation, there are three main areas to work on with ourselves and the community we live in. We work on one, all of them, or some - It doesn’t matter as long as we are doing something about it. So, we can help reduce plastic footprint by:

  1.     Reducing our personal or our company’s usage of single-use plastics. (For a business this is also financially beneficial);

  2.     Finding and using sustainable substitutes in the market instead of those providing single-use plastic. (When you litter at least you know it’s organic);

  3.     Financially contributing to programs that work with or initiatives that manage reducing plastic waste. (This is called off-setting your plastic footprint).

This Read is about guidance in becoming mindful consumers. It lays down some simple steps towards being effective in reducing our plastic footprint(or any waste in general). It is based on human experiences and what has been learnt. When experimenting with the steps described below one should always remember that change doesn’t happen within a night, please be patient and take it one step at a time. Plastic usage is a habit and to break a habit a lot of energy & discipline are needed. Now you are a Mindful consumer and the positive impact you are making should keep you fueled in this journey. So, we shall commence by:

    • Always keeping a reusable tote bag with us to avoid taking home another 100 plastic bags every time we shop. The current Norm is to receive a plastic bag, so we have to insist on not taking one (or two or three...). Don’t worry, we will have some intrusive thoughts of being rude for a moment, but the truth is: we are not. Let’s remind ourselves for another moment about the problem it causes and we’ll feel the victory of rejection. Also, every time we reject, the Norm starts to shift. We have to reject to the point that the Norm becomes NOT to receive a plastic bag(cup, bottle, straw etc).

    • Buying a reusable water bottle/cup. If one investigates in essence the concept of a plastic bottle filled up with water, one concludes that it is ridiculous. What we pay for actually is the plastic bottle, because drinking water is FREE. It’s good that every time before buying we ask ourselves: is it something that I will die without? Is it really necessary for me to consume it right now? If the answer is NO to the above questions, please note that you don’t need it... with every litter we threw already it’s a guarantee that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea!

    • Use the reusable bottle/cup to fill up your coffee or other drinks. No rules are saying that your reusable bottle/cup should be used only for drinking water.

    • Try to avoid takeouts. So much f^$#^%&$ waste! An order nowadays is equal to 1 kg of plastic packaging and 200 gr of food! Eating at home is healthier both ways, food quality and environmental impact wise. If you just can’t eat at home, then a way better option is eating at the restaurant with reusable cutlery and plates – so you avoid all that plastic takeaway packaging…

    • Avoid plastic stirrers, plastic cups and straws in coffee shops/bars. Every time when possible ask for a reusable spoon or wooden sticks & reusable cups if given plastic ones. We don’t need a straw to drink anyways (discard that from options immediately). Persuade our daily favorite coffee shop/bar to switch to reusable or ecological solutions. Repeat to ourselves: If I don’t do it, then who?

    • My shampoo bottles, hygiene kits and all that stuff to make me beautiful! Aghhh.. at first thought it hurts, but think about it long term. There are many ways to cut down that single-use plastic consumption. For example, we can substitute plastic shampoo bottles with soaps. There are so many soap alternatives that come in organic packaging and after we finish the soap there is no plastic litter to take care of.

    • Buy in bulk. Buying in the bazaar is always better. We should bring our reusable bags and refuse the plastic bags. No packaged fruits in unnecessary plastic wrappers or poly-foam plates! By buying in bulk in the bazaar we will for sure reduce our daily plastic footprint if nothing by 60%.

    • We can always buy in bulk in supermarkets too. If buying dairy or other bulk products that are available at the fridge, we can always bring reusable containers to be filled up.

    • Avoid fast fashion or any fast products. We don’t need that many clothes. We are not fashion victims, are we? We think changing clothes is nothing, actually, it’s one of the worst contributors to the pollution and climate crisis. The clothes we buy with 100% of synthetic textiles are the biggest contaminators of the fresh drinkable water with microplastics: anytime we wear and wash them. This is just one of the facts - without taking into consideration the whole unethical treatment of workers and their payments (their lives!). Well, let this be a bell reminder every time we see ourselves in the mirror looking good in that unnecessary fast fashion dress!

    • Remember to always insist. I am not rude. I am thinking and contributing to the greater good. Insist & persist.

    • Be contagious. Encourage and talk to our families and friends, to our favorite shops and sellers. Tell ‘em. Remind as often as we can. Remind it all day long. Remember too. There is a rule saying that until somebody has heard it 7 times, they won’t realize they heard it for the first time. If we have to tell it to somebody 3 times, (don’t be frustrated) we have 4 more times to go! (Until they get it)

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.(3 more times to go)

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

    • Refuse single-use plastics. Reuse as much as I can.

haha

One of the main reasons why we should be mindful when buying stuff is because - WE – as consumers are the drive and shape of the market. If we go on everyday consuming plastic packaging as if nothing is happening, the message we send to the plastic producers and suppliers is that “we are okay with it and we demand it” and “you [plastic producers and suppliers] should keep producing more because we are here to consume it”.

But ..

If we keep sending these messages to the plastic producers and suppliers, they will never see the need to change and the whole cycle will keep on being reproduced until we'll blow up the Planet!!!

... I don’t wanna send this message!

We have the right and the duty to be informed about what we buy and consequently make informed choices, because every purchase we make is a VOTE for that particular product to be on the shelf the next day and so on.  

If we make decisions Mindfully and REFUSE products that cause harm, the message we send to distributors and manufacturers is: “we are not happy with your products and we do not support them in causing further damage”. By making informed decisions we reject products that compromise our health and our environment. As a result, the chain of the Linear Economy is disrupted and in this way, we are having a proactive and conscious role in truly influencing policy change from the bottom-up stream.

Governments should incentivize and invest in alternatives while holding current producers and distributors accountable for their plastic waste production, pre & post-consumer.