I have grown up in the great state of Texas my entire life. Down here we love football and country music, but not typically the environment. Texas traditionally hasn’t done a great job adhering to environmental regulations. Like the majority of Texans, I grew up in a household that didn’t really do much to minimize our carbon footprint.
I started a take a more open perspective on protecting our Earth when I met my girlfriend at 15. She loves animals and the Earth, she is a vegan, and best of all her name is also Kasen. Yes, we have the same first name except for the first letter. For the blog today, here is a piece from Kasen talking about a few ways you can take part in reducing the amount of plastic you use in your day-to-day. This will help you get ready for our Plastic Cap Challenge as well!
Plastic never decomposes on the earth. Almost every piece of plastic that has been produced is still on the earth in one shape or form. Think about it… every plastic water bottle you’ve ever drank from, along with every toothbrush, ziplock bag, and juice container you’ve used in your entire life is still in existence- even if it’s been recycled. Plastic is overflowing our landfills and polluting our oceans, damaging our planet and the animals that call it their home.
Unfortunately, with consumerism becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives, the use of plastic is on a rise. Here are just a few crazy facts:
- In the past 10 years, we’ve produced more plastic then we have in the last century.
- 50% of the plastic is only used once before it is thrown to the landfill
- In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 tons of plastic fragments— such as grocery bags, straws, and bottles, are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
- Annually, over 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
So, why don’t we just recycle? That’s what I used to think as well. Recycling only works a small fraction of the time. If the things we’re throwing into the recycling are contaminated, or if something unrecyclable gets thrown in, it can compromise the entire bin. 75% of the world’s trash is recyclable, but we’re only recycling about 30% of that… and that percentage is continuing to go down as we speak. As a nation, we collect so much waste that we were having to ship our recyclables off to China, but the country has recently declared that they won’t take it any longer. This is how much waste we’re creating. Recycle facilities are majorly overloaded, and they’re having to send tons and tons of recyclable material off to the landfill to be able to be at all efficient.
Besides destroying our ecosystems, plastic is harmful to the body. You constantly see labels on plastic products claiming to be “BPA free,” which means we’re already cautious about using the substance in our everyday lives. Plastic chemicals are absorbed through your skin; statistics show that 93% of all Americans over the age of six will test positive for BPA- a hormone disrupter.
More than ever, it’s important to be mindful of the things you’re consuming, how they’re produced, and how you can treat the earth properly in the way you go about your everyday life. While it may seem like making a few adjustments won’t make a big difference, if every person were to make a positive change in just one small area, it would drastically reduce the amount of waste being produced.
When trying to live more low impact, it’s important to be familiar with the six ‘R’s’ of sustainability, stated in order of importance:
Refuse- bring less waste into your life, and don’t consume what’s not necessary
Reduce- understand what you actually need and consider more sustainable options
Reuse- replace single-use items with reusable options (think cups, straws)
Repurpose- how can you repurpose things like jars & cans in your life?
Rot- compost food scraps
Recycle- recycle (properly) waste that can’t be avoided or reused
Now that we have an understanding of why reducing waste is important, here are some easy tips on how to do it:
- Use bamboo toothbrushes, bar soap, safety razors & toiletries without plastic. These are all easy swaps. My friends & I all love our safety razors- they save you tons of money too.
- Invest in reusable straws & coffee cups. I like to keep a straw in my bag so I always have it with me whenever I’m out. In the future, I want to be better about bringing my own cup into coffee shops.
- Bring your own grocery bags & produce bags to the store. Plastic bags are no longer being recycled, so this is especially important! If your store has a bulk bin section, you can buy goods in reusable cloth bags and jars.
- Buy clothes second-hand. Thrifting is a great way to reduce your waste simply by not supporting clothing stores constantly pushing new trends. Besides, online shopping equals lots of unnecessary packaging. It also helps you avoid supporting fast fashion, but that’s a different topic…
- Lastly, compost! If you’re unfamiliar with composting, it’s all about turning organic materials, like food scraps, into soil. This prevents food scraps from going to waste in our landfills. Even if you don’t have your own backyard, you can still compost in some shape or form. I urge you to do your research & figure out a way, it’s truly much easier than you think!