How you can start being part of the change you want to see? Changing behaviours, changing habits one step at a time.
People sometimes ask what is the best way to lessen their use of single use plastics. If I said it were easy, that would not be completely true. What comes easy for some is quite hard for others.
We are so used to getting things done quickly or choosing the easiest way out of a situation that we sometimes do not think of what could have been done differently. And that goes for our consumption of single use plastics and the choices we make about our environment in general.
Plastics have become a way of life, a habit that may not be easy to quit. Some may consider it one of our worst addictions when you consider the impact on our natural environment.
One of the steps to breaking this addiction, is to REFUSE. To refuse according to the Cambridge English Dictionary "is to say that you will not do or accept something".
REFUSING is the first step to ending our love affair with single use plastics. To refuse though, means we have to rethink. It equals preparation, a little extra effort and time. It must be nutured to become a habit- a part of us.
Buying a drink- say no to plastic stirrers, straws, cups
Ordering food- say no to plastic cutlery, cups and styrofoam food containers
At the supermarket or general shopping- say no to plastic bags
You're thirsty- say no to plastic bottled water and drinks
Now you've said no to all of these but now what? Saying no doesn't mean that all your problems are solved.
Sometimes refusing requires no other action on your part but other times you will need an alternative- a 'sustainable swap' as some would call it. That sustainable swasp could be found at home among your every day items or you may have to purchase something to help you on your way.
Buying a drink- you do drink from a glass at home without a straw so saying no to a straw should be ok. If you still want a straw, get a reusable (stainless steel, glass, bamboo) one that you can keep with you. Just be mindful that sometimes you tell the attendant that you do not want a straw and they still bring it. It is a habit that they too, will have to break. Between placing your order and getting back to you, they have forgotten your request. Reminders are key here. You can kindly ask them to write it down next to your order. Sometimes you feel like you don't want to be a pest but persistence is important. They will remember next time, or the time after that.
Ask that your drink be placed in a glass or reusable plastic cup. Purchase juice and sodas in a glass bottle rather than plastic bottle or make your own juice at home.
For those who purchase breakfast, walk with your reusable mug for your hot cocoa tea, custard, coffee, tea etc.
At a restaurant- ask for metal cutlery or walk with your own. Take your order to have rather than take away. Walk with your own container. Some establishments are happy to put your food in your own container. Better yet, cook your own food (not always possible for some). Walk with your cutlery from home and keep it in your office kitchen or in your desk draw or get a reusable set which can be kept in your bag or car.
For shopping- at home you have old shopping bags and plastic bags from previous shopping trips that you can fold and store in your bag or vehicle's glove compartment. They'll come in handy at the supermarket or at the mall. If you don't have any get a strong bag that can be used multiple times.
You're thirsty- tap water is still good unless you can't have it for health reasons or it is unsafe to drink where you live. Boil your tap water or invest in a water filter if you do not feel comfortable drinking the water straight out of the tap. If tap water still isn't your thing even when boiled or filtered, get the 5 gallon refillables which costs just over XCD $20 and a hand pump (costs about XCD $20) or a water cooler (if you can afford it). This will cut down greatly on the number of plastic bottles you purchase and just throw away.
That bottle which your bottled water comes in, "is intended for single use applications; repeated use increaes the risk of leaching and bacterial growth" (read here to find out what those numbers on plastic bottles mean).
If you don't have a bottle at home, get yourself a reusable bottle and fill up before you leave home, at the tap, or dispenser. There are 'safe' plastic, glass and stainless steeel reusable bottles of varying sizes.
REFUSING therefore can be made easier once you have thought out all the options you already have readily available at home and then consider those you may want to get.
What are your thoughts on refusing? Is it easy or hard? Are you already refusing in your daily life? If you haven't started refusing, do you think you will you be able to implement any of the solutions highlighted?
Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.
If some of the solutions cannot be found at home, you can find some in the 7Ks shop at https://www.7katharsis.com/