Plastic pollution is a serious problem! We have all seen the documentaries that show its devastating effects on the environment, as well as marine life and other wildlife. Single-use plastic from household and commercial trash ends up on shorelines and plastic waste clogs drainage systems in our cities. Some link plastic to extreme weather cycles.
A study by the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and McKinsey, estimates that millions of tons of plastic packaging flow into the ocean at a rate of one garbage truck every minute, if we continue on this same tangent, that alarming statistic could increase to four truckloads per minute by 2050.
But how do we find a large-scale solution to a problem of this magnitude? The answer lies in bringing about change at an individual level. National Geographic featured the Baltimore Harbor cleanup, which used a contraption named Mr. Trash Wheels, a floating device that sucks up plastic from polluted harbours. John Kellett, its creator aims to “get the trash before it gets to the ocean.”
Take the plastic free pledge
Experts believe we can make a significant impact at a global level with small changes to our buying and using habits. Wondering where to start? Swap plastic for eco-friendly alternatives. Consider taking the “plastic or planet” pledge to reduce single-use plastic.
Go eco-friendly in your kitchen
Family life revolves around the kitchen, a space that everyone shares. Starting your eco-friendly drive here means everyone in the family does their plastic-free part. An informal audit of your kitchen is likely to reveal a collection of plastic storage containers, plastic bags, wraps, cleaning products in plastic packaging.
Take notice of your groceries. Clear plastic produce bags are mounted on rollers at the end of each row in grocery stores but rather than relying on these single use products, opt to use your own produce bags instead! Do you also need to purchase small-portioned and pre-cut produce which is unnecessarily wrapped in plastic packaging? Go whole or go home. Bring your own reusable grocery bags and consider shopping at your local farmer’s market to take advantage of produce plucked fresh from the ground without plastic wrap.
Here’s a compact guide to cut plastic from your kitchen:
Eco friendly kitchen storage containers
Swap plastic containers with eco-friendly options like stainless steel containers or glass mason jars and containers. Find ways to upcycle your plastic containers (for arts and crafts or in the garage). Bamboo or wooden storage jars can also be a good storage option. They can be recycled and do not leech dangerous chemicals. They also look great! Organic bamboo, pretty ceramics and earthy clay containers give your kitchen a warm, rustic charm!
Eco-friendly storage options for your fridge
Ziplock plastic bags are convenient and habitually used to store food in your fridge but they are one of the worst single-use plastic offenders. Have you tried beeswax bags as an eco-friendly alternative? They’re great for storing fruits and vegetables in the fridge or for sandwiches and snacks when on the go. Beeswax bags keep food fresh longer as the material is breathable and has antibacterial properties. Also, since they are made from all-natural ingredients, you won’t have to worry about plastic chemicals or toxins leaching into food, and you can reuse them for up to a year so they are a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.
Beeswax wraps are also versatile and can be used as a replacement for Saran wrap to cover bowls of leftovers in the fridge.
Use plastic-free cookware
Replace your non-stick cookware and microwave-friendly plastic with eco-friendly options like cast iron pans, high quality metal pots and stoneware that won’t leech toxins into your food. Organic cutting boards made from sustainable bamboo can be used in place of synthetic cutting boards that release plastic micro-fragments as you chop. Opt for wooden spatulas to go plastic-free all the way.
Is your dinner table plastic-free?
Get plastics off the dining table! Make sure dinner plates are glass or ceramic. Wooden serving bowls and platters work well for salads and starters. Use reusable cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. For kids, opt for stainless steel straws. If you must use disposable plates and cutlery, consider biodegradable bamboo options.
Choose eco-friendly kitchen cleaners
Most commercial cleaning products for the kitchen are laden with chemicals. Residue from these products can remain on surfaces or utensils and find its way into your food. Harsh cleaning agents generate mildly toxic fumes that can cause allergies or aggravate respiratory problems. Look for biodegradable kitchen cleaning liquids or soap bars made from natural ingredients. Sodium bicarbonate and vinegar are very effective for cleaning surfaces and greasy utensils. You can also add your favourite essential oil for a wonderful scent! Home-made or commercially available bio enzymes are also good options to consider. Using bamboo brushes and scrubs made from natural fibres like coconut coir will go a long way in your plastic -free journey!
Say no to single-use plastics
Do you regularly buy ready-to-eat-meals, milk or juice cartons, and bottled water? All of these are packed in single-use, non-biodegradable material. Avoid buying these if you can. Buy milk packaged in glass bottles instead of plastic cartons. Avoid kitchen cleaners in one-time use dispensers. Buy our own sturdy, durable dispensers and use eco-friendly refill packs to reduce plastic waste.
It’s a wrap!
Every piece of plastic you use and discard chokes the planet. According to an article published by ourworldindata.org, packaging as a sector is the dominant generator of plastic waste, responsible for almost half of the total global plastic waste. Every step you take toward a plastic-free kitchen contributes to a greener planet and a healthier home environment. A little care on your behalf will go a long way for the planet. Once your kitchen is plastic-free, go a step further and see if you can reduce your carbon footprint - go local, go seasonal, and try traditional. A step back, in some cases, creates a positive forward motion. Encourage your friends to create momentum!
Many businesses create products made from natural, organic materials that are safe for the environment and convenient to use.
Just as we benefit from having a purpose greater than ourselves in our personal lives, these companies exist for a definitive purpose. They believe in creating something more valuable than a product that drives revenue. They want to make a difference and take us toward a better future.