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Zero Waste Tips to Reduce Plastic use - Plastic Free March 2020

Do you have a goal to reduce plastic and waste? Plastic-free March is a great opportunity to look at your own use of plastic. Plastic-Free March aims to wake people up to look at disposable plastic consumption and find ways to reduce plastic use during March. At the end of the blog post, we’ve listed a few easy Zero Waste tips to get you started.

Two light perennial fruit bags and food

But first, why even reduce the use of plastic? Plastic consumption has been on the rise, e.g. the average person now uses 20 times more plastic than 70 years ago. However, only 14% of the world's plastics are collected and recycled, so a large proportion ends up in landfills, the environment and the oceans. If we continue at this pace of consumption, there can be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. Scary, isn't it?

The problem with plastic is due to many reasons, below are a few:

  • Plastic is made from petroleum, which produces carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, there is a limited supply of petroleum on Earth.
  • Many plastics shed toxins that are dangerous to human health. For example, BPA has been shown to interfere with human hormonal function and phthalates are suspected to affect e.g. male fertility.
  • The plastic releases microplastics, which flows into waterways and nature and acts as a transport platform for other toxins. Microplastics that run off into water often become nutrients for animals, which can cause the microplastics to end up back in humans when consuming seafood. According to the WWF the human body ends up with a debit card amount of microfiber a week! The largest sources of microplastic are e.g. car tires, cosmetics containing microplastics and man-made fibre clothing. However, we do not yet know the effects of microplastics on human health.
  • Plastic recycling is still rudimentary in the world, leading to littering of the environment and the oceans. Aquatic animals make the mistake of thinking plastic is food for which eventually causes starve to death with a stomach full of plastic.
  • Fortunately, Finnish plastic recycling has developed at a tremendous pace, which is why we do not suffer from the same level of littering problem as, for example, developing countries. However, the recyclability of plastic is even lower compared to many other materials, for example, plastic food packaging is not yet available in new plastic free packaging, but is turned into a flowerpot or tube. Finnish plastic collection is also intended only for plastic packaging, so hard plastic products, such as buckets and toothbrushes, are not included in plastic collection. More information on hard plastic recycling can be found in our previous blog post from here and more information on Finnish plastic recycling can be found from here.

Plastic garbage on the beach

How can you reduce the amount of your own plastic waste? We’ve listed nine easy Zero Waste tips for reducing plastic waste:

  1. First, spend less! Look at your own consumption habits and favour more informed and responsible choices. Enable the Zero Waste guideline: refuse, prune and reuse. Instead of buying a new product, buy used, borrow, rent or repair. When you need to buy, choose sustainable products. You can browse all plastic-free Zero Waste sustainable products from here.
  2. Choose natural fibre clothing. When washing man-made fibers, put the garments in a microfiber container Guppyfriend laundry bag.
  3. Use reusable beeswax wrap as a substitute for cling film wrap and foil.
  4. Choose natural cosmetics to avoid microplastics. For example, wash your hair with natural bar shampoo and conditioner. Wash with natural soap and use natural  bar soaps for shaving.
    Exfoliate the skin silky soft with body and face scrubs made from natural ingredients. By favouring natural cosmetics you prevent  microplastics and other artificial chemicals finding their way into waterways. In our selection you will find all natural cosmetics in plastic-free packaging!
  5. Use durable shopping bags and produce bags on shopping trips. Say goodbye to plastic disposable bags in stores by wrapping food in durable cotton bags. Today, stores are familiar with customers using their own produce bags for fruit and vegetables.
  6. Pick up take away portions in your own lunch box. Avoid take-aways if the portions are packed in a plastic or Styrofoam disposable boxes
  7. Avoid plastic disposable straws and encourage stores to give them up or change them to plastic-free alternatives.
  8. Use reusable bottles and cups. Research shows that plastic water bottles contain microplastics. And anyhow, why buy a water bottle from a store if you can fill the bottle from the tap.
  9. Drink your coffee from reusable cup. Many cafes even give a discount if you use your own cup!

Two wrapped beeswax wrappers on a table and a pear

Plastic has become the default choice, making it difficult to avoid, and finding more sustainable alternatives can be complicated. That’s why we decided to act by opening our online store www.plasticfreepicks.fi, designed to provide plastic-free and sustainable alternatives with ease. Welcome to browse our selection to support plastic-free March.

During this month, we will also present plastic-free choices as well as sustainable alternatives in our Instagram and Facebook accounts, so come follow us! By subscribing to our newsletter, you will also receive tips for living more sustainably (found at the bottom of the page).

The EU's goal is to ban disposable plastics, so a challenge like Plastic-free March can help achieve that goal. Every small  movement has a big impact on a larger scale. So challenge yourself and come and try a plastic-free life for March!

Sources:

World Economic Forum 2016

United States Environmental Protection Agency

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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