Single-use plastic? Never heard of her

Attempting to take measures to be more eco-friendly in a capitalistic, one-use society is difficult. We all know that. It is convenient to get single use plastic cups and plastic bags at the grocery store. However, a reusable lifestyle is not impossible; it’s all about breaking habits.

Against the overwhelming scientific evidence, it seems that a large majority of people still remain either unaware, in denial, or disengaged with the problem of climate change. Only a minority of people are taking action to mitigate the effect. This means that for most individuals, daily life continues in a way that is unsustainable.

Breaking habits means a lack of convenience and it means planning ahead, thinking before you act. Before going to the grocery store, it is possible to make a list of everything you need and to bring a reusable container for everything you plan to buy while also choosing to buy in bulk. This causes a sort of reboot to the grocery store trip and requires bulk shopping in brandless food items, which saves money. On top of that, there is no extra trash that is coming from the grocery store due to incorporating reusable items. It requires thinking ahead and being prepared, which is possible to be accustomed to and make a habit.

Something we have started to do is be completely conscious of how much plastic is involved with the food we buy when going out. Such as a plastic cup and straw when getting a smoothie randomly. We have come to the habit of thinking, “I don’t have my reusable cup, so I’m not going to buy a drink to go.” This may seem extreme, but it is also surprising how many things are out there that you don’t necessarily need all the time, can easily make at home, or plan to have a certain item and bring an extra cup in case you want a lemonade while out. This comes back to the idea of being prepared.

We are used to being given plastic and chain restaurants even use it in their marketing (for example, Chipotle’s drink advertisement). We are used to having unnatural, environmentally disastrous item around us, all the time, for a one moment use. All the plastic and trash we have thrown away is still there, sitting in a landfill. Especially with the recent changes in China’s plastic policy, nine percent of the world’s plastics are actually being recycled. That is also why our society continued its use, convenience, affordability, and profit.

Most of the trash we accumulate has an easy fix, and while not convenient, still possible and available. For example, California’s plastic bag tax forced a change of habit in many people to start using and bringing plastic bags which is a small, hopeful step.

It is of course understandable for one to make mistakes. In the beginning when starting to make small changes to be more environmentally conscious, it was common to accidentally forget reusable bags or have a last minute going out venture and forget/ not expect to use a reusable container earlier. It doesn’t make anyone a bad person, and it is important to recognize how much is done and to forgive oneself. At least you are aware and making your best effort.

In terms of buying reusable bags, there are low cost options (only $.99) at grocery stores such as Sprouts. These bags can be used in the bulk section as well as for produce. Package free shop also has reusable bulk bags, sold by a small business. Buying glass mason jars from thrift stores is also a great option! To take lessening your impact to the next level while also saving money, you can make your own bags with old t shirts or pillowcases. It can be fun and even innovative in being a solution to the problem.

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