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How to reduce the use of plastic in our daily life?

25.07.2018

plastic 

Nowadays we are so accustomed to plastic products that if they suddenly disappear their lack would cause us to be quite confused. At the same time, our excessive use of plastic has been shown to be harmful to nature.

Is there a golden middle and a possibility for a moderate use of plastic?

When did we start to rely so much on plastic?

In 1907, a Belgian chemist named Leo Baekeland introduced an unmatched substance of its kind called - "Bakelite". This is the first entirely artificial plastic material made of phenol-acid extracted from coal tar.

The new material quickly enters people's lifestyle as it is lightweight, robust, heat-resistant and easy-to-fit everyday life and life-saving applications. Between 1929 and 1935, the use of plastic is wholly dominant in the industry, as the world wars require huge amounts of production, and materials such as natural rubber, which until then were handled are limited.

Until the late 1970s, plastic was everywhere and in everything, and life without it became unthinkable. It is quite possible that no one even imagined how uncontrollable it would be.

How much plastic is needed in everyday life?

The most common use for plastic is containers and packaging. If we looked at every commodity around us, we'd realise that the majority of commodities around us are presented in a form made of kind of plastic.

Typical examples are white cosmetics containers; drug packs; cleaning preparations; diapers and other sanitary materials; handles of kitchen utensils; the elements of some furniture and cars. In these cases, the average person and consumer have no choice but have to rely on the producers themselves. Searching and finding substitutes for plastic is the key to getting rid of our dependence on it. The price for substitutes used to be assumed to be the more expensive solution but that is until recently as new biodegradable materials are presented as good alternatives.

How can we limit the use of plastic at home?

At home:

  • Shop with a compact cloth and easy folding pouch, which you can keep in an easily accessible place. Since canvas bags need regular and thorough cleaning and you have decided that plastic bags are more comfortable - use them as long as you can, then dispose of them in the appropriate container.
  • Be creative - there are so many suggestions for a repeated and an atypical use of plastic products. For example, with old plastic bags, you can knit an interesting decoration or dress up the pots of your flowers.
  • Divide your garbage and recycle - this is perhaps the most difficult to educate in each of us, but even getting used to it is a very serious step in the general war on plastic waste. Тhe easiest solution for a more responsible home is a garbage container specifically for plastic, nylon and derivative waste to be disposed of in specialized public containers for recycling is. An important point here is that if the plastic you throw away has a greasy residue then it cannot be recycled.
  • Don't let the furniture and toys for children and pets be made of plastic but instead opt out for natural materials.
  • Do not put wine or brandy in plastic bottles that you have lying around.
  • Do not use again plastic coffee cups and teapots of yoghurt, trays for takeaway or plastic utensils - you cannot know when a plastic object enters the long process of decay and the reuse of such storage products can potentially harmful to your health. 
  • Do not use glitter which is also a type of microplastic. It innevitably finds its way into the ocean or our drinking water.

Following these not so complicated steps, you will be a bit more responsible for the environment and will secure your future and that of your close people.

 In the kitchen:

  • Keep your spices in glass jars with a metal cap instead of plastic bags,
  • Keep your vegetables and fruits fresh in a clean cloth and in the refrigerator;
  • Do not buy or hold your bread in nylon - cloth or paper packaging is the better idea;
  • Forget about plastic storage boxes - use aluminium foil to cover your dishes or aluminium and coated paper boxes;
  • Stop with the straws - it's true that the kids have fun with them and for the adult it's easy, but for example, a pack of spaghetti with a hole in the middle - are a much better idea, and it will be even more fun.
  • Say "NO" to the garbage bags - use a metal bucket, wrap it well with aluminium foil inside so that it does not let the garbage to stick on the sides and then be ready to easily to dispose of it.
  • A good investment is an organic waste grinder, which will drastically reduce the amount of garbage produced by a household. After the mechanical milling, a rather large volume of waste is removed, and in most cases, the resulting consistency is so fluid and homogeneous that it can be thrown directly into the canal / toilet. 
  • Buy a laundry powder in cardboard boxes instead of in plastic bags or bottles.
  • Prefer cheese, meat and milk from your local store or where it is still wrapped in wrapping paper or foil.

In the bathroom:

  • Instead of a bathroom freshener, use a glass bottle with aromatic wood sticks or waterproof candles and instead of a toilet bowl with a sanitary liquid, spray with a vinegar and soda solution once a day.
  • Replace the nylon shower curtain with a cloth or a glass door - the nylon exposed to a constant water stream dissolves and adheres harmful microorganisms that thrive well in a damp environment.
  • Plastic faucets and shower batteries are made of aluminium or inox - frankly, this solution needs a bigger financial investment, but on the other hand, inox and aluminium can last for a long time while being in a good shape, without bumping the surface and without the possibility of easy cracking.
  • Invest in a reusable electric or metal shaver because of over 2 billion single-use razors of plastic fall into the water basin.
  • Use only exfoliants made of biomaterials like brown sugar, sea salt or even baking soda as everything else is a type of microplastic spheres that pollute the water.

Unusual and innovative substitutes for "harmful" household supplies

  • Styrofoam is extremely slow-degradable, yet widely used, including for food cans, but has been recently successfully substituted with a new product made from fungus mycelium and is already used by giants such as IKEA and Dell in their packaging.
  • Hemp yarn instead of polypropylene - yes, the hemp could replace plastic products entirely by helping to produce the same materials that are even more stable but still readily biodegradable.
  • Food boxes and utensils made of renewable wood, which is light and has a minimal use of the basic wood product and degrades for up to 4 weeks even in the ocean.

How to avoid plastic outdoors?

Get rid of the straw -  Why is it so important to refuse the straw in the café or restaurant? To overcome the problem of "choking the Earth with plastic waste," we must first deprive ourselves of the materials without which we can live, and then find a substitute for all those without which we can't. Since the straw is considered to be a kind of unnecessary indulgence and objectively every drink can be drunk directly from the object in which it is served so serious efforts are being done by all industries and organizations to stop the supply of straws. There are extremely innovative substitutes for those who are solid fans of the object straw, such as spaghetti with a hole (already mentioned), wooden straws, glass or metal straws, cardboard disintegrating straws. At the beginning of 2018, dozens of organizations and sites appeared with the slogan "your last straw" or "not the straws". This will inevitably lead to a cessation of production and distribution.

Britain's Prime Minister, Teresa May, took the most serious step in this direction. Due to her proposals, a formal ban on the production, import and supply of plastic straw has now been introduced. By the end of the year, other countries will also sign a similar ban. This initiative goes hand in hand with the idea of totally avoiding unnecessary plastic objects and the production of waste treatment plants. In some French supermarkets, all plastic straws have been pulled out, and even if you want, you can not find them.

Have coffee in the office or at home, and when you still want to get outside, check if they do not offer paper cups, but then dispose of your cup in a paper container. Another option, which is quite personal and hygienic, is to bring your own thermal container - there is a variety of many sizes and very compact and interesting ones on the market.

Buy ice cream in a cone, not in a bowl and suck mint candy instead of chewing gum. Do not buy mineral water in plastic bottles, choose the glass ones.