“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
– Anne Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef
After much deliberation, starting 1 July, 2022 , the Indian government finally kicked off the ban on a few single-use plastic products. Yes, not all. We still have a long way to go. But banning the following products might just be a good start to begin with:
Earbuds, Cigarette packs, Straws, Packaging Films, Sweet Boxes, Plastic Flags and Banners, Invitation Cards, Candy and Ice-Cream Sticks, Cutlery like plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives and trays, Polystyrene for Decoration, Balloon Sticks and PVC Banners under 100 microns.
Would you like to go plastic free too around your home, work spaces, school, shops and cafés?
What’s Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is a movement to educate and activate people around the world about the plastic pollution crisis. Started by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz
the Founder of Plastic Free foundation, this movement was founded in 2011, to create a world free of plastic waste.
Quoting their website:
Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics?
Plastic Free July provides resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste everyday at home, work, school, and even at your local café.
Our movement has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries. You making a small change will collectively make a massive difference to our communities. You can choose to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!). Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.
If this calls out to you, you could join the Plastic Free July movement to begin with and then choose to go beyond.
5 Ways to Go Plastic Free
I started my plastic free journey about 3-1/2 years ago. Yes, fairly late, but to begin a journey is what really counts. Someone rightly said, “It’s never too late to start.”
I have realised in the past few years that every small step counts. You can’t change everything in one go. But what matters, is to make those small changes, slowly but surely. This will go a long way in cutting down your plastic consumption.
I have had quite a few moments of despair when I felt absolutely helpless, trying my best to be environmental friendly. One being this one.
We were on this long road trip with our reusable steel and glass bottles without a drop of water left. The summer sun was beating down on us. I had no choice but to buy a single-use plastic bottle which would only add up in a landfill eternally. The guilt could have been over-powering like in the past, in a situation like this. But I had no choice but to remind myself that we would eventually recycle that bottle for our bio-enzymes (floor cleaners) that we make at home.
So if you choose to start this journey, be kind to yourself and do the best you can. Just like Anne Marie Bonneau says – “We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Without further ado, here are 5 things you can do to make your July and beyond (if you choose to) plastic free:
1. Carry Your Cloth Bags
There are a whole lot of foldable options available in the market that you can just keep in your purse or bag. Even the cloth bags that you get in many stores here in India, aren’t recyclable and are made of polypropylene, a type of plastic that is no better than plastic.
You can make your own recyclable cloth bags at home. My mother in-law makes lovely ones; even with an old pair of jeans and they are so trendy. You can ask your local tailor to help you makes a few, if you aren’t needle friendly like me.
A lot of companies like Beco here in India, have some fantastic cloth bags. Lot of stores, especially organic ones give us cloth bags that we can re-use and recycle. Beco also has a whole range of plant-based, chemical free and environmentally free products as well. (No, I have not been paid to put this post up by them.) I have been using their products for sometime and can vouch for them.
2. Carry your Water Bottle: When you step outside of home carry your refillable glass/steel bottle, so you don’t have to buy a single-use plastic bottle. Yes, in that road trip I just mentioned we forgot to carry enough to keep us going. Make sure you do, when you head out for long road trips.
Also make sure to ask for filter water at cafe’s, instead of opting for the sparkling water or mineral water. It’s mostly safe to do so.
Even when I travel, I ask the hotel staff to give me filter water in clean, refillable bottles, instead of the packaged water bottles. Believe you me it works and I’ve never fallen sick drinking that water. Just that you may have to remind the hotel staff as they tend to forget and are not used to guests asking as often. The good thing is lot of places now, especially the environment friendly ones, have already started replacing packaged water for refillable ones.
3. Skip that straw, Skip that Cutlery:
Even though you may be drinking from a paper straw; do you really need a straw is my question? Drink your juices, cocktails straight from the glass, I say.
Having said that I don’t advocate taking away straws from people with disabilities who need them. But for those of us who can drink without a straw, let’s do so; and if we are so hung up on using straws, let’s buy reusable metal or bamboo straws, please.
Also when you do a take-away or order your food online, tick off the “send cutlery” option. I have noticed many places have started sending wooden cutlery, but my question is why would you need that too in the first place, if you are home. Plastic cutlery of course is a complete no-no. (those either ways are banned now.)
Agreed if you are on an outdoor picnic or a drive in take-away you might need the cutlery, else there is no such need. Even though it’s always a good idea to skip that take-away coffee, or meal and just grab it their at the restaurant if you are physically present. Saves a lot of packaging material.
Then there are inspiring advocates like Vani Murthy/Worm Rani who carry their own cutlery wherever they go, or travel!
Some cafe’s in India, like these in Bombay that include Star Bucks and Blue Tokai, even offer you a discount if you bring your mug.
Also Blue Tokai’s coffee take-away cups are made of paper and corn starch. Yes, I’m a big fan of their coffee, but what really makes it worthwhile is when I order take away at home, the coffee is delivered in cups that are pretty, reusable and recyclable to boot.
4. Switch to Shampoo bars and Soap bars:
These have been our family’s life saviours. They are also packaged in eco-friendly material. They have helped us cut our plastic intake drastically in the last three years. Also they last so much longer. The switch from body wash to soap bars has also been a great move for us personally.
There are a whole lot of shampoo bar options available in the market, and chemical free ones to boot. Give them a go. A friend of mine has a great line of soaps, shampoo bars and beauty products (minus plastic) at Soul Craft and another one makes these gorgeous, environment friendly soaps at Earth Child soaps. They are also couriered in recycled boxes.
5. Switch to Bamboo:
Bamboo tooth brushes and bamboo ear buds are a perfect replacement to the use and throw plastic ones. Especially ear-buds, which are just a one time use. We have some great ones in the market if you look. Also available in organic stores that stock eco-friendly products.
We have made the switch to tissues, kitchen rolls and toilet rolls that are made from bamboo, as they bio-degrade at a much faster rate then regular toilet/tissue/kitchen roll that take years to break down completely. I have found all of these at Beco.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Are you joining hands with me and signing up for Plastic Free July ?
You know, right; every drop in this vast ocean of humanity counts.
Yours does too!
Let’s do it for our future and the generations that come after us. They will be eternally grateful to us for not ignoring this call to beat climate change, to live sustainably and to treasure this planet that has been gifted to us on a platter.
Love, light and laughter always,
Feature Image Credits: Markus Spiske @ Unsplash