Personal plastic management guidelines.
The following ten tips will start you in the right direction to reduce your personal plastic footprint. One important consideration of these actions is that if enough of us follow these guidelines we will compound our impact by influencing buying habits and therefore manufacturing habits acting as role model for the consuming world.
1. Become aware of your own plastic habits!
Take an inventory of the plastic you use in one week, everything. Toothbrush, straw at in-N-out, lid on take out coffee, fork at take out lunch place, wrapper to the new paper towels, bag for the chicken, wrapper for the chicken, packing peanuts for the new toy, bubble wrap for the new cushion on the patio furniture, you get the point.
Weigh it, write it down. Multiply it by a week, month and year. Post it on your refrigerator, or on Face Book, your choice. Think about that. Become conscious of that. Not guilty, aware. Do you think you are above or below average? Look that up.
Now you are educated and face a classic moral dilemma.
If I fail to take action, am I accepting this? Is this acceptable? Can I ignore this?
Ask yourself, What can “I” do about this? Then do that.
2. Become environmentally literate
Before you take sides in an argument just because everyone else says the same thing, make sure they are right. But listen to all sides of the story and pay attention to who is telling it and who pays their salary. It takes a lot of extra effort to become informed, but it feels fantastic to get respect for your researched point of view.
When it comes to the environment I think it is useful to ask, “what if they are right?”
That doesn’t mean I believe them. It means I want to know more. Usually in science if someone tells you that they know this to be solid fact, they are full of it. The scientists who are always questioning the answers are the ones I trust most.
3. Become aware of your surroundings
Take a look around you. Now look closer. What is going on in your neighborhood, home-town, favorite recreation area etc. Is that ok with you? Does this need help?
Are you in a position to do something, or just raise awareness about the problem?
The first step to taking action is recognizing the problem exists and how it affects you and your loved ones and community. Some solutions are simple and inexpensive, others are complex and demand incredible resources.
What difference can you make?
4. Make conscious choices
When we purchase we write public policy. We dictate the market because we are the market. If we collectively choose to eschew plastic convenience that market will diminish and those prices will need to rise. At the end of that trend is the end of the line for that product because they are not profitable anymore without the demand.
Be conscious that the double cello wrapped bananas may be convenient but there is a price to pay for management of our waste and right now those who are profiting are not paying that cost. Our children’s environment and their health is paying for it.
5. Consider bulk shopping
Again you are getting political here and writing store policy. If the customers want to buy in bulk the store will provide what they ask for. It may take a while but it will work. You need to convince others to ask for it too though.
Bulk can be much cheaper, it is usually much fresher and of higher actual quality than packaged food. Bulk food does not add as many preservatives and waxes into your diet. Bulk food provides more local jobs than items packaged many miles away.
Bulk food keeps money local too. The only ones losing out are the trash collectors.
6. Consider powdered laundry and dish soap
These can be transported with less plastic. If you must use liquid consider refillable.
7. Take your own containers and utensils everywhere
This is a bit “Hippy” still but that became cool once before and you could still beat the trend if you act now! Forks in the glove box, personal chopsticks when used for sustainable sushi are still cool, of course the personalized coffee mug and the well-travelled stainless steel water bottle are Hollywood’s own standard procedure now.
Your own glassware in case of restaurant leftovers is pretty hard-core but that will soon be mainstream and we will laugh to think we ever did it differently.
8. Get involved
This is the tough one, more difficult than giving money. But seriously, if we are concerned about the air we breathe and the water we drink we need to be on it now!
There are threats to the groundwater that are irreversible and long term. The profiteers are expecting that eventually they will be sued and stopped, but if they can do the damage now then the profits will outlast the penalties by billions.
Air in the US cities is improving, but the global CO2 count is just shy of 400 parts per million and many experts feel we need to drop below 350 to break even.
Plastic pollution is one of many environmental issues facing our planet. Please choose issues that are meaningful to you and give them some attention for your own benefit. The goal is to make a difference and you will do that when it matters to you.
If plastic pollution is your concern there groups that want to affect public policy and there are groups that want to educate everyone about the issues.
Clean Oceans International supports many others working to make a difference about plastic pollution. Some work alone and some are highly visible. Each have their own approach and respect should be given to those with ideas different than your own.
It will certainly require more than one answer to a question the size of the oceans.
9. Support those working on your environmental goals.
Many of us believe that we could be happy on the front lines of some environmental cause, hanging with whales or cleaning up oil spills. Most environmental cleanups are noisy, smelly and dangerous in the short and long terms. And the support crews are doing accounting for long hours in a trailer in an industrial part of town.
Not really where you want to be. But the job is important. So get involved when you can, but show a little support for those who fight for you every day.
The size of the gift is completely personal. From a non-profit point of view, it is nice to have the regular small donations that mean grassroots support. Set up autopay!
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
When something you love is in peril you do what you can to provide protection.
Sometimes we are able to make a big difference; sometimes we are of lesser means. We do what we can and we don’t have to do that in public, ever.
If it matters you will act to the correct level every time.
It is not a crime if not everything matters enough to take action. We would never sleep if that were true. If it does matter and we fail to take action we have only ourselves to answer too each morning. You already know what is right and wrong.
When you take action it is a powerful feeling. You have made a choice and followed through. You will feel the rewards of making the right choice immediately.
“The world experiences constant change; lets make it positive!”