We as consumers have the power. Our behavior as consumers makes a difference. It´s not even hard.
Sustainability - Reducing Plastic Waste in 8 Steps
Step 1 - UnboxingUnboxing means that you remove unnecessary plastic wraps and packing right in the store. The store will take them back. If enough people show that they do not appreciate unnecessary plastic packaging, stores will at one point re-think which kind of products they buy. Which will then force the producers to reconsider more sustainable ways of packaging their products.
Step 2 - TransportationEveryone has seen pictures of plastic bags swimming around in our seas. Lying on the beach. Ending up in the tummies of animals. In Morrocco, plastic bags are now forbidden. In my home country, Germany, only reusable plastic bags can be SOLD (they are not free, and I feel that is the way to go).
It´s easy to throw a few bags made from cloth or paper into your car. I will admit that paper bags can be difficult if it´s raining or you are transporting wet produce.
As an added benefit those bags are more durable and will last longer. I am sure I am not the only one who had an accident with super thin plastic bags just ripping apart.
Step 3 - Choice of productsBananas in plastic wrap? Two kiwis in a paper/plastic bed? Cucumbers sealed in plastic? Single packaged candy sealed in packs of 3, packaged in a plastic bag of 12? Choose products that do not have unnecessary packaging. I will admit that it is not commonly available in the US yet: If you can buy yogurt and dairy products in glass containers.
BPA yes or no and whatever toxin is next to be found in plastic - you will not need to worry about that anymore, and you help the environment at the same time.
Step 4 - Coffee on the goCoffee is one of our favorite drinks. No wonder that we love grabbing a coffee while we´re on the road. If you take your thermos cup with you, you can avoid a lot of waste.
Currently mostly available in cities and "green" stores: Some coffee shops even reward you with a small discount when you bring your cup
If you do not want to carry your own cup with you: You could tell them that you do not need a lid (they never seal tight anyway).
Step 5 - Personal hygiene articlesDoes your bathroom look like a plastic museum too? So many tubs, bottles, and dispensers. No worries! Just start with the soap. Instead of a plastic dispenser buy a bar of soap. If you want to use liquid soap (which most of the time also contains artificial components), buy refill packs.
If you start to buy organic shampoo and shower gel, you do not just help the environment, but your health will also love you for it. Just check in your local organic store or start HERE.
Step 6 - Thirsty?Did you know that many big water brands sell what they call "re-constituted" water? What a fine name for filtered tap water. Please note: This water has not been filtered to remove toxins, heavy metal and such. It has been filtered to remove bad taste, for instance from chlorine. Nestlé, Pepsico, Coca Cola and many other corporations sell tap water.
Regular water and tap water gets moldy after a while. Did you ever wonder why "re-constituted" water lasts for years? You guessed, it ...
I am using THESE water bottles. I usually bring a bottle of tea and a bottle of homemade kombucha with me. It also saves money.
Click on the link to read an article by Dr. Mercola on the worst and best bottled waters. It´s one of my favorite sites with endless loads of useful information (my blog is jealous of his blog) - just be warned. If you sign up for the newsletter: Be prepared for some seriously pushy marketing. ARTICLE
Step 7 - The KitchenPlastic spoons, containers - in kitchens we find a lot of plastic. Why not exchange it piece by piece with sustainable goods? Glass containers and wooden spoons for instance have the added benefit that no tiny particles land in your food - like it´s the case with plastic.
Step 8 - ToysChildren explore the world with all of their senses. Naturally, they put many things into their mouth. Cheap plastic toys can be loaded with dangerous toxins. Make sure that the toys you buy carry the "BPA-free" and "PVC-free" labels.
The best choice is toys made from wood and fabrics. Robust toys made from high-quality can also be gifted to someone when your kid does not need them anymore. Or you can buy them second hand.
Do not worry if you feel you cannot make all of the changes at once. Every little bit helps and is better than nothing.