Top seven ways to reduce the use of plastic

1. Use alternatives to plastic bags

Single use plastic bags contribute to quite a lot of non-degradable waste. To switch to a more environment-friendly option, you could use a jute bag, a paper bag or a cloth bag. Paper bags are easily disposable while jute and cloth bags can be reused numerous times- these options will also help you save money. So the next time you go to buy anything, carry your own cloth, paper or jute bag. Paper bags may tear if the items are heavy so in that case you could stick to cloth or jute bags.

2. Use alternatives to plastic straws

The issue with plastic straws is that it never completely decomposes. They take hundreds of years to break down into smaller bits but these small bits remain in our soil and water, release toxins which are ingested by humans and animals and cause furthermore harm. Hence, many people nowadays are switching to metal or paper straws. Paper straws are biodegradable. Metals straws can be cleaned and used for a longer period of time and they are opted when a person needs to use straws regularly. Stainless steel straws would be the way to go- they are budget friendly and non- toxic.

3.Opt for alternatives to plastic toothbrushes

The first thing you touch after getting up each day is your toothbrush, which is basically plastic. They are non-recyclable and even their manufacturing process gives out very harmful by-products. Some alternatives for a plastic toothbrush are- swak and bamboo. Swak is said to have a handle that can last a lifetime and has a replaceable brush head made from miswak wood. Bamboo toothbrush is not only biodegradable but also naturally antimicrobial. Just be careful to not buy brushes with nylon-6 bristles or an environment-friendly brush with a plastic packaging.

4.Avoid buying plastic bottles

If you look around, you will notice more than 2/3rds of the people around you use plastic water bottles- irrespective of you being an office employee or a passenger in a local train. The most efficient alternatives to plastic water bottles are- Stainless steel and aluminium water bottles. They are easy to maintain, durable and have a long shelf-life. Another alternative to plastic bottles are glass bottles but they run the risk of breaking easily. Though you opt for a cold drink in a glass bottle instead of bagging one with plastic packaging henceforth.

5.Avoid using plastic gift wraps

As easy as this might sound, very few people actually pay heed to it. After all the searching, buying and packing of the gifts, we don't consider the material of the gift wrap selected. Plastic gift wrap is still plastic, which is non-degradable and pollutes our soil and oceans. The alternative is paper and cloth gift wraps. Both are eco friendly and commonly available. To avoid using sellotape, you could switch to ribbons or fancy cotton ropes and make sure the gift cards don't have a plastic lining on them.

6.Request for no plastic packaging on orders

Everytime we buy something online, the packaging is done as such to make sure the product does not get damaged as it is delivered to you. Yet very few notice that the packaging is entirely plastic based and this is applicable to all the orders- lakhs of them per day. This plastic also adds to our problems caused by plastic pollution. The simplest way about this is to call on the customer care number and specifically request them to make the packaging plastic-free for all your orders. Amazon and many companies are working on this, it's time we as consumers stepped up too.

7. Opt for alternatives to plastic utensils

We all have a pile of plastic containers in our kitchen from all the times we took a takeaway from a restaurant, along with it came plastic spoons, forks and what not. The easiest way to avoid this plastic junk is to carry our own metal, glass or wooden containers when you parcel food. You could carry your own cutlery if you are going to eat on the way or use the cutlery at home. Additionally, you could use cloth or paper bags as carry bags. In the light of how serious the environmental issues have become, we all ought to change the way we live our lives towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly life. Switching to alternatives from plastic is considerably easy but it needs to be done consciously and consistently.

AUTHOR

Janaki Talekar