Monday, July 16

10 ways to reduce your plastic waste

Just a few months ago I found myself signing up for a diving course on a pretty little island in Indonesia - a super impulsive decision and absolutely not something I had set out to do before I left for South East Asia. In hindsight, about 90 percent of my favourite memories and most exciting adventures started out exactly like that: they were impulsive decisions made in under 0.3 seconds. 

I love how those types of things work. You decide something in under a second and never forget that singular moment for the rest of your life. Kind of like the way you decide to say 'yes please I would love a plastic bag', then throw it out after without a single moment of hesitation and then that same plastic bag will pollute the earth and the oceans for much much longer than you will ever live. Yep - much much much longer.

Then you'll sign up for that diving course on that pretty little island and find hundreds of plastic bags stuck to gorgeous corals - or even worse, stuck to sealife and perhaps you might start reconsidering every single time you said 'yes please I would like a plastic bag' (for that one single pineapple you bought on a cosy little market on a beach in Indonesia covered in plastic straws and empty cans of beer).

If you've come to that point of realisation then: good for you! Congrats. It took some time, but here you are, aware, and ready to make some changes for the better. If not: here's your wakeup call. The earth is dying and we've only got ourselves to save it. Here's 10 ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. 10 tiny little lifestyle changes that'll eventually change the world. 

1. Bring your own reusable bag for grocery shopping. Say no to plastic bags and don't use extra plastic bags for fruit and veg.

2. Pay attention to the way products are packaged. Aim for no packaging or bio degradable packaging. Carton and paper is always better than plastic. Steer away from individually packaged stuff (you know, the snacks in plastic wrapped individually, then in sets of three and then all of that in a big plastic container - ridiculous). There's loads of supermarkets or grocery stores where you can bring your own containers to fill up with their produce. Research the options in your area!

3. Buy your fruit and veg at local farmers markets or try to find ones at supermarkets or grocery stores that are not wrapped in excessive amounts of plastic

4. Invest in a reusable cup, bring it with you wherever you go and ask to get your coffee or hot chocolate or almond turmeric latte or triple shot espresso dirty chai (whatevs) in your own cup instead of the plastic one. 

5. Say 'no straw please'. Ask for no straw when ordering a drink in a restaurant - if you prefer to enjoy your beverage through a cylindrical shaped tube then invest in a sustainable, reusable one made from glass or stainless steel and keep it in your bag.

6. Recycle and upcycle: find new ways to us old items, buy second hand, fix things that are broken or if none of the above are an option: choose to invest in higher quality, ethically crafted, sustainable  items that'll last you a lifetime (or much longer than fast fashion or consumerism focused retail-chains will).

7. When traveling, or when planning to do so, always make sure to bring these zero-waste essentials: A reusable water bottle (tap water often isn't an option in foreign countries so you either have to refill your water bottle or buy bottled water. Always opt for refilling your bottle! In lots of countries you even have machines on the street to fill your water bottle for a few cents - so it'll be cheaper than buying bottled as well!). A (wooden/bamboo) spoon (or one of those spork thingies), so you won't have to buy plastic cutlery. A canvas bag or a cotton net bag (The Green Labels sells really nice ones). And refillable containers for cosmetics (lots of which you can make yourself so you don't have to buy any in plastic containers). Also pay attention to not buying plastic Q-tips and invest in a wooden toothbrush!

8. Bring your lunch or snacks in a reusable, biodegradable container or lunchbox. There's lots of cute ones out there and it'll probably keep your food from being all smushed up as well. 

9.  For smokers: use matches or get one of those metal refillable lighters. The plastic ones are shitty anyway.

10. Pick it up! It's pretty much no effort and waiting for someone else to do the job isn't really an attitude that'll change the world. Or anything. If you're hanging out on that Indonesia paradise beach and find a plastic bottle or a bunch of bags or an empty lighter: pick it up and throw it out (in a trashcan, obviously). It's not that hard. 

(11. An extra one for the humans with uteruses: try a menstrual cup. It'll save you heaps of money in the long run, is easier to maintain, just as comfortable (or even more comfi than tampons or pads) and much much much more sustainable.)

Here's a bunch of cool brands I love:

And here's a small list of very big facts regarding plastic pollution:

- Each year, about 4,8 to 12,7 million TONNES of plastic end up in our oceans
- A person uses about 140 kilograms of plastic each year
- It takes hundreds and hundreds (up to a thousand) of years to degrade a single plastic bottle; even after that the plastic is degraded but not gone
- It only takes a single plastic straw to kill a turtle

Time for a change...

This post was written in collaboration with National Geographic. They launched an amazing and huge campaign to raise awareness and activate their following to decrease their plastic usage. I'm very happy and proud to have been able to work with them on this very important and amazing campaign! #STOPMETPLASTIC

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