This post was written by Eco Mamas, a resource for the always-running person who wants to do more to fight climate change and clean-up the environment, but needs it to be simple.
How to Reduce Your Dependence on Disposable Products
Our lives are packed with work, kids, activities - you name it - and living sustainably can feel like just one more thing on the to-do list.
Yet one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably requires only simple tweaks to our daily routines: Choosing reusables over disposables.
A movement is forming against the pile-on of disposables in our day-to-day lives. People are ditching water bottles, bringing their own grocery bags and avoiding unneeded packaging.
Why take these steps? Most people are triggered by trash
You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch...
Or the stat that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Or maybe you’ve seen the now-famous sea-turtle-with-straw video. These realities are jarring, and we should ditch single-use items for all of those reasons.
However, if litter was the only problem, we could just look for biodegradable stuff and be done with it. There’s actually more to the story when it comes to any disposable item.
Why are disposables generally hard on the environment? And ultimately hard on us?
Every bottle, box or bag on earth took water, energy, and chemicals to produce-- and more to recycle, even if you do the right thing once you’re done with the product. Whether cardboard, paper, glass, or plastic, everything leaves its mark.
According to the non-profit Plastic Oceans, “The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.”
The Steps Taken to Make & Dispose of a Product Leave a Carbon Footprint
(The Kind That Drives Climate Change and Broader Eco-Footprints)
Water and chemicals used in all stages of product creation can impact the water we drink, the food we eat, the health of the fish in our oceans and more.
A plastic water bottle that ends up in a dump can still release harmful chemicals called leachate into groundwater. No, thank you.
But this doesn’t need to be paralyzing. We can think in terms of small steps.
Start by filling your reusable coffee cup on-the-go-- and use it every day. After about 20 uses, it becomes a lower carbon option than a disposable cup. The more you use it, the more it offsets other ecological impacts too.
What other disposables should you weed out of your routine?
The below list is from the Ocean Conservancy’s Top 10 Items found in cleanups in 2017:
1. Cigarette butts with plastic filters
2. Food wrappers
3. Plastic beverage bottles
4. Plastic bottle caps
5. Plastic grocery bags
6. Other types of plastic bags
7. Plastic takeout containers
8. Plastic lids
9. Foam takeout containers
We’re also encouraged by companies like Three Main that make it easy to get everyday products in reusable containers. The more manufacturers can ‘close the loop’ and ensure that packaging we use today can be useful again tomorrow, the simpler it will be for all of us to clean up our habits.