When you want to start your plastic free life, the frequency illusion may kick in, where all of a sudden you see plastic everywhere. In your kitchen, in your bathroom, in the supermarket, at your favorite takeaway restaurant and at that cute little café where you get your daily coffee fix.
Rather than thinking of plastic as an enormous problem, try to break it down. Focus on taking small steps, just one at a time. A relatively easy transition to make is replacing non-reusable single-use items with reusables.
Single-use plastics are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. Examples are straws, water bottles, cutlery, plastic bags, ziplock bags and cling wrap. The biggest problem with these disposable plastics is that they are mostly only used for just a few minutes but designed to last forever.
We encourage you to think about your daily routine, identify which single-use items you use most frequently and challenge yourself to replace these with reusable alternatives. Here are five examples to get you inspired!
Bring a bottle! According to the Euromonitor, in 2017 approximately 1 million plastic bottles were sold every minute. This is expected to increase up to 583,3 billion bottles a year in 2021. Think about the difference we can make together if everyone stopped buying plastic water bottles and replaced them with a reusable one. Especially in the Netherlands, tap water is super clean and tastes just as good or maybe even better than bottled water.
Coffee to go cups
Bring your own cup! Don't be deceived by the paper coffee to go cups. The inside often contains a thin lining of plastic to make them leak proof, which makes it difficult to recycle. And don't forget about the plastic lids. In the Netherlands alone, we drink hundreds of thousands cups of coffee and tea to go everyday. Bringing your own reusable coffee cup is an easy solution and will greatly reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Ban the bag! A plastic bag for your fruits and veggies, for your bread and for all of your groceries put together. A plastic bag when you go shopping for clothes and plastic bags at the market. They are everywhere. This, in my opinion, is one of the easiest things to avoid. Simply bring your own tote or mesh bag. Try to have one on you at all times, so you come prepared for an unexpected grocery run. They are light and compact so won’t take up a lot of space.
Cut the cutlery! Are you going to a festival, the beach or a picnic in the park? Bring your own cutlery. You might as well get started because plastic cutlery will be banned in Europe starting 2021 (just like plastic plates, cotton buds, drink-stirrers, balloon sticks and straws). Such good news!
Stop sucking! Reusable straws made from stainless steel or natural materials are a great alternative to plastic straws. Perfect to use when you’re home or to take with you when you go out. Don’t forget to kindly ask the waiter at the restaurant to not give you a straw. And don’t worry if you do forget, just try again next time!
And remember: you don’t have to be perfect. Celebrate small accomplishments! The impact is great!