Since the first piece of commercial plastic was produced approximately 70 years ago the production and use of plastic have grown immensely. According to studies carried out in 2017 we have now 9.2 billion tons of plastic on the planet! Of this total figure nearly 7 billion tons is waste and of that waste, 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling centre but instead ended up in landfill or in our oceans.
I could carry on listing numbers and statistics like this which, to be honest, make me feel dizzy, as I absolutely can’t imagine the sheer volume of plastic that litters just about every corner of our beautiful world. Fact is though, the planet can’t take much more and since plastic doesn’t decompose, but just breaks down in smaller and smaller pieces it will simply never go away. Instead, plastic pollution will become a bigger and bigger problem for our earth as well as our water supply and slowly kill off our wildlife with its toxins.
Just think of every single piece of plastic you have ever used. Every sandwich wrapper you threw in the bin and every single plastic water bottle you emptied is still around somewhere, and will still be here when you are long gone! The awareness of humanity's plastic problem is certainly growing and more and more people try and look for alternatives to plastic to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly life!
What does “Living without Plastic” mean?
We, as human beings, made it really hard for ourselves to stay away from plastic entirely. Everywhere we go, we see plastic. Walk through a conventional supermarket, a restaurant, a creche, a hospital or any other public place and you find an enormous amount of plastic.
The amount of plastic that is so easily available to us is the reason why a lot of people feel overwhelmed almost as soon as they started to look into their possibilities to a life without plastic. Even, if you have been on your plastic-free journey for a while it can feel like you are not enough when you hear those numbers above or see a devastating picture of plastic pollution. No matter how hard you try, sometimes you might think there is no point, as we have already passed the point of return.
Living without plastic doesn’t mean you never get to lay eyes on another piece of plastic again, that is impossible. There will probably always be a certain amount of plastic in your life, if not in your home and in your daily life, then maybe, when you need to see the doctor, need an injection or even surgery. Single-use plastic holds a very important place in the medical field. However, even in your a plastic-free life doesn’t necessarily mean all or nothing!
Every little helps!
On some days, I head to the market, with my reusable shopping and produce bags and manage to get my groceries entirely plastic-free. On other days, I am back at my local supermarket buying bananas wrapped in plastic and sliced bread in a bag. In those moments I sometimes feel deflated and like I am not just failing myself, but also our planet and any future generations.At Baba Me, we understand how hard it is to cut out plastic and entirely replace it with eco-friendly and reusable alternatives. We ourselves have been on this journey for a good while and speak from experience when we say, that it is (and probably always will be) a work in progress.
However, what I (and you probably too) need to remember on days like that is: EVERY LITTLE HELPS!
Every single plastic bag I manage to avoid is one less item of plastic endangering our wildlife. Every single reusable nappy I use means one less soiled disposable nappy hanging around for hundreds of years. Every single time I remember to bring my own reusable cup to the coffee shop, I need to remember that this means one less takeaway cup being thrown out and probably ending up in the ocean. No matter how small I think those things are, they do make a difference – not just here and now, but actually for years to come!
For me personally, the key to all this is to stay positive and just keep trying. I am doing my best and if that means I am only creating half the plastic waste, I used to create then that is already something!
Living without plastic: A simple start
If you stumbled upon this blog, because you have just started to look into cutting down your plastic consumption, then chances are you already feel pretty overwhelmed and have no idea where to actually start.
There is actually a pretty easy way to kiss single-use plastic goodbye! Have you ever heard of plastic’s big 4? These are the some of the most used, disposed and harmful plastics, but luckily at the same time, they are also the easiest to replace.
So, if you are looking for a place to start, replace disposable cups with a reusable coffee cup. Use a reusable water bottle made from stainless steel instead of a plastic bottle. Bring your own reusable shopping bag and don’t rely on plastic bags and either say no to plastic straws completely or replace them with reusable stainless steel straws!
And when you consider that 500 billion disposable coffee cups and 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year, you know that even though it is just a small tiny little step for you, it makes a huge difference to the overall plastic consumption. And just like that your very own “Living Without Plastic Journey” is off to a great start!