A month ago I did it. I watched Plastic Ocean and realized what deep, deep shit we’re in. About forty seconds after the documentary ended, I turned to my boyfriend and said “NO MORE PLASTIC. EVER. WATCH ME.”
So, the point Plastic Ocean was trying to make definitely got across – I was scared/baffled/upset/angry/every emotion except happy about how badly our waste was harming the planet, and our future. So, I vowed to make a change…
Until the next day when I ordered an iced coffee without thinking. “Aw crap, next time I’ll remember to bring my own cup.”
And then the next day, when I went grocery shopping: “Oh man…forgot my bags…I swear this will be the last time I do that.”
And so on…and so on…and so on.
I’m human, ergo I’m mostly lazy about stuff. Convenience has overtaken our morals, making it ‘okay’ to be wasteful for the sake of time. We are so distanced from the immediate effects of our indestructible garbage that we’re able to turn a blind eye to the environment thanks to our first world privileges. As helpful as these documentaries are, it’s hard to make a change in one’s lifestyle – let alone an entire population’s.
So, this September, I made a promise that I would start living as waste-free as possible by making small, eco-friendly changes and working my way up the “green scale” as I like to call it. To begin, I stocked my tote bag that I bring everywhere with eco-friendly substitutes for the plastic objects I consumed most of on a daily basis. Here are the five things that you, too, can include in your bag to reduce your plastic consumption (links included, holla!)
A S’well Water Bottle
Do I even have to go into detail on why this S’well bottle now has a permanent spot in my bag? Plastic, single use water bottles are Public Enemy #1 and are completely unneeded. Don’t like the taste of tap water? Get a Brita. Use the filtered water in your fridge. Do anything except use a plastic water bottle, please and thank you.
If plastic water bottles are Public Enemy #1, plastic straws are #2. While the war on plastic straws is going strong, nationwide change isn’t going to happen fast enough. So, I started carrying around a bundle of paper straws wherever I go to sub in for those plastic junk cylinders they put in my water, coffee, and margaritas. AND THEY COME IN FUN PATTERNS! Cherries for summer, fingers crossed that they have pumpkins for fall.
Reusable Produce Bags
When used in tandem with your reusable grocery bags, you will earn your Captain Planet Badge! Plastic bags are annoying to begin with (so annoying that you usually have a dedicated drawer in your apartment to hide them all), but those skinny, thin plastic produce bags are 10x more annoying in my opinion. I can’t even reuse those…not that they disintegrate anyway. Solution: these drawstring, reusable mesh produce bags. Now I will never be caught off guard when I make an impromptu Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s run!
Besides the plastic bag drawer, do you want to know the next most annoying cupboard in the kitchen is? The one with all the left over plastic takeout boxes from dinners past. You know – the one’s they put your food in when you ask the waiter if you can take the rest of your meal home? Those are incredibly annoying. So, I started carrying around these collapsible containers (which I actually got from Tone It Up – I’m obsessed with Karena and Katrina btw) for moments such as these. Now, if I’m out to dinner and can’t finish my meal, I pop open one of these babies and make my own doggy bag. An eco-friendly one at that!
Plastic utensils – great concept, horrible execution. No one likes doing dishes, especially at large, fast-casual restaurants and cafes. But, no one likes global warming either. I found these really sleek, reusable bamboo utensils (fork, spoon, knife, and chop sticks) on Amazon for an amazing price, plus the carrying case they come in is made out of recycled plastic water bottles!
So, there you have it – my lean, clean, and green plastic-eradicating arsenal that is now in my bag at all times! Next up: a week of being completely waste-free.