Since the 1950s, we have already produced billions of plastic. Over 8 million tons are being thrown into the sea each year. And in 30 years, we’ll be left with more plastic in the ocean than marine life. In 2017, there were an estimated 51 trillion microplastic particles in the sea.
Imagine how much more plastics there are now in 2020 and how much more will be in 2050. These plastics aren’t just damaging marine life and the environment. It’s damaging our lives and our health too. In 30 years, we won’t consume the same amount of seafood as we used to. While the seafood we’re eating already has plastic in it. That’s right, these microplastics get absorbed into their flesh, and when we consume the fish that we can, we end up consuming the plastic that comes with them. If you thought we aren’t being affected by these things, think again.
Aside from that, polycarbonate plastics contain a chemical called Bisphenol A, better known as BPA. These are found in food and drink packaging, water bottles, baby bottles, food cans, and bottle tops, to name a few. This chemical can leach into our food and drinks and affect the brain and prostate glands of fetuses, infants, and children. It can even be linked to high blood pressure. Although the chemical is safe in small doses, being exposed to it, a lot can cause some damages to our health.
For some reason, people allow these facts to go over their heads. Yes, plastic is one of the most durable, flexible, long-lasting materials there are. It’s cheap and convenient too. People would much rather pick the convenient option but try to think about the future. In 30 years, our seafood consumption will be limited, we would have eaten tons of microplastics by then, and millions of marine life and birds will be dead.
Luckily, companies have been working hard to provide people with safer and more eco-friendly materials to use as alternatives to plastic. The thing is, you don’t have to make such a drastic change in your lifestyle to help solve plastic pollution. You can help save the environment and keep yourselves healthy by switching to these eco-friendly alternatives of some of the most commonly used plastics:
Instead of using disposable plastic grocery bags like we usually do, why not opt to use reusable grocery bags made of cloth instead? Most grocery stores sell reusable grocery bags for a fair price. But if you still have tons of plastic bags piled up in your home, try to reuse them as much as you can before switching to these cloth bags. That way, you don’t just waste plastic bags.
Instead of buying plastic water bottles or using a new cup every time you order coffee or tea at Starbucks, invest in a thermos. A thermos is great because it lets you drink both cold and hot beverages. Good thermoses will usually keep your drinks cool for as long as eight hours and can keep drinks hot for up to 12 hours. Coffee shops, such as Starbucks, also give you a discount when choosing to use a reusable cup when you order a drink.
If you really can’t have a drink without a straw, making the switch to a reusable bamboo straw is a great alternative to plastic straws. However, if you have bought a drink with a plastic straw, try to reuse that straw as much as you can before throwing it away too. It’s the same idea with plastic bags. But the best thing to do is really avoid using straws in the first place. I mean, are straws really that necessary?
Bamboo suction plate for toddlers
If you have a kid or are planning to have one, you will probably rely on plasticware to feed them because it doesn’t break. Why not switch to a bamboo suction plate instead? It won’t break, it can’t get knocked off the table because it has a suction to keep it in place, and it’s definitely BPA-free.
Everyone owns a pair of metal utensils. Why not make it a habit to bring it around? If a restaurant offers you plastic utensils, kindly refuse and use your own utensils instead. It’s also more hygienic.
Toothbrushes are also one of the most highly produced plastic products there is. But now, bamboo toothbrushes are a thing too. Once your current toothbrush has been used to its maximum capacity, consider replacing it with a bamboo toothbrush.
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars are great alternatives to bottled shampoos and soaps. Soap bars have been around for a long time, so it really isn’t that new. Shampoo and conditioner bars are newer creations, and it’s said to last longer than the average bottled shampoo and conditioner. It seems expensive at first, but it’s actually very cost-effective. They’re also better for your hair as they tend to be made with more natural and organic ingredients than most soaps that use tons of alcohol, silicone, sulfates, and other chemicals that are actually bad for your hair and scalp. They usually cause dry hair and dandruff, which is not attractive.
Plant-based trash bags
Yes! These exist. As you know, your trash usually ends up in landfills, and plastics dumped there will take thousands of years to degrade. Landfills fill up quickly. That’s why plastics are dumped into the ocean. By using plant-based, biodegradable trash bags, you lessen the number of plastics in landfills and oceans.
If you really want to contribute to helping the planet, making an effort to avoid plastic, and using these alternatives will already help a ton. However, if you still have tons of plastic bags at home, don’t throw them away just yet. Keep them for as long as you can. Use them as trash liners or reuse them for groceries (as long as they’re clean). Once it’s no longer useful, that’s when you make the switch to these alternatives. Remember: one person making a drastic change will not help the planet as much as millions of people taking small steps to achieve change. It’s a global effort, and we all need to play a part in helping the environment and ourselves.