Getting Free of Single-Use Plastic

Living without plastic is hard, but people are doing it.

As a fellow member of one of the eco groups I belong to pointed out, “hard” is being a refugee. Hard is having your country torn apart by war. Hard is losing a child. Hard is … well, you get the idea. Minimizing plastic is certainly inconvenient (extremely so in some cases), but really it’s not all that hard, and once you get rolling, the momentum picks up.

Yes it requires effort (in some parts of the world more than others), but every bit of single-use/throwaway plastic we can manage to refuse (or failing that, REUSE or upcycle) makes a difference. And, our efforts WILL shape the consumer environment, social norms, & regulatory landscape.

Tips I find helpful to my efforts to reduce my consumption of single-use plastic are 1) make a fun game of it; 2) don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good; and 3) rather than dwell on the inconvenience of going against the current, focus on the sensory & aesthetic pleasures of using “real” stuff (cloth bags, wooden utensils etc). Also 4) enjoy & take pride in being part of a growing “tribe” of people who really care and are doing something about it. And 5) for some of us, it helps to think of our efforts as a way of atoning for past times of our lives when we might not have used as much care in our daily choices. But if you’re already the type to beat yourself up, go easy on that one or it might backfire. You can also 6) focus on how much you want future generations to be able to experience life on this wonderful planet.

And read the New York Times article linked at the beginning of this post; it’s full of good ideas.

You can also read articles about the country-sized areas of plastic trash floating in the oceans. And the mountain of trash that’s been piling up since China quit being the world’s recycling bin. And see pictures of kids floating on mattresses in a sea of trash.

But, don’t let yourself get too discouraged. Focus on what you can do now. And have fun! It’s the best way of making your actions contagious.