Earth Day always seems like a day to take stock of what you are doing, and what you could be doing better for Planet Earth. I’ve been using recyclable shopping bags for years (at least when I remember to take them in from the car. Or I buy new ones; I have a huge collection 🤷🏻♀️) I love my refillable coffee cups and use them daily. But that’s where I’ve basically plateaued the last few years. OK, but it could be better.
Plastic in the marine environment has been a huge talking point lately, and one that is obviously close to my heart. There are lots of suggestions on ways to reduce your plastic usage; some I think are more doable practically than others:
Eliminate/Reduce Plastic Water Bottles: I bought refillable bottles last year with great intentions but limited follow through. I don’t want to think too much about the fact I can’t leave the house without clutching my coffee source but I completely blank on water. We recently installed a water cooler at work and got rid of our plastic bottles there; I’ve since realized I really don’t like the taste of water in a plastic container. I did good using the refillable bottle at the beach on vacation; here’s hoping I can pick up the pace better in my real life. Based on the number of water bottles I just cleaned out of the floor of my car, I can really improve on this one.
Refillable grocery bags: I’m pretty good at grocery stores and Walmart/Costco, but I rarely think of them for other locations (like convenience stores). Silly, I know. It’s a mental block I can work on.
Plastic straws: I started trying to request “no straws” at restaurants this winter. I rarely use straws, so it’s hard for me to remember to specify (because not using them isn’t really a habit change) and sometimes they come anyway. I purchased metal straws and am now carrying one in my purse. This is definitely a work in progress.
Zippy bags: This one is going to be tough. I have a bizarre obsession with Ziplock bags in all sizes. I think they’re marvellous for any typed storage need you have. Anything and everything works in a Zippy bag. But….they are most definitely plastic, and as much as I use them, I’m throwing almost as many away. The guilt has been gnawing at me a bit so I knew it could be the right time to make a change. I’ve ordered 1 litre silicone bags that are freezer and dishwasher safe, which covers one of my big uses of Ziplock bags and my realistic need for things to be dishwasher cleanable. I’m anxious for them to arrive to see if they functional and if I’ll actually use/reuse them.
Produce bags: I’m a little ambivalent about this one, so it doesn’t bode well for its success. The waste of plastic produce bags has started to bother me, but not to the level of the Ziplock bags. However, in my silicone bag order is a set of linen produce bags. I have a bad feeling I’m not going to be as diligent as I should with remembering them, but I’ll but them with my grocery bags and see how it goes.
What I’m not doing (yet):
Bring your own takeout containers. I completely agree with reducing the styrofoam takeout container usage. I can (almost) see taking containers to a restaurant where you end up filling the container of the food you didn’t eat at the table. What confuses/concerns me is how it would work at an actual takeout. How do they know my container is clean? Isn’t there some food safety concern there? If you just end up transferring from a disposable into your non-disposable isn’t it a moot point? I have too many questions on functionality to launch into this one just yet.
These things are all small changes; but I believe small changes can make a difference. Hopefully next Earth Day I’ll be able to say I’ve done better on at least a couple of these. Really, being conscious of your choices is the first step in any change.