Living in Santa Cruz for the past 42 years makes me a target of stereotypes like “hippy” and “environmentalist.” I don’t consider myself a “hippy” but I am a die-hard environmentalist. I served on the board of directors of the first Ecology Action of Santa Cruz back in the early ‘80’s and I compost. Today, most people recycle paper, cardboard, glass bottles, and aluminum cans but everyone still seems confused about what to do with PLASTIC.
USE AS LITTLE PLASTIC AS POSSIBLE.
Why? All plastics are made from petroleum oil (fossil fuels), which means that they contribute to our catastrophic carbon dioxide problem.
So RETHINK HOW YOU USE PLASTIC. Here are 8 tips:
Rather than plastic containers, use glass containers with stainless steel lids. Or, use ceramic bowls or mason jars. Besides, glass and steel clean much better than plastic!
For Thanksgiving, we normally have 20-30 people each year. About 10 years ago, I purchased 24 stoneware plates, bowls, and salad plates on sale. Now, we serve our guests with nice ceramic plates that we can wash and reuse for decades. It is actually less expensive in the long run!
Most trash and recycling cans in the house don’t need new plastic trash liners each week. That’s hundreds of liners each year! Instead, empty the contents in the trash and recycling containers each week, and only replace the liner if it is filthy. That way, you don’t have to wash your cans when someone throws something yucky in it, and you’re breaking the habit of replacing every liner each week.
If you make a sandwich or salad at home, not ready-made from the store or takeout restaurants, you could store it in a reusable container and have zero waste. Besides, it’ll be healthier and less expensive, too!
Glass or stainless steel water bottles:
While water bottles have been popular for years, I’ve completely moved away from plastics. I use glass water bottles with plastic screw-on lids. I almost never buy throw-away water bottles, but if I’m out without my own containers, I’ll always buy water or juices in glass containers (and recycle them when I’m done).
I keep a fork and spoon in my purse and in my car so I don’t have to use throw-away plastics. I don’t like the way food tastes or feels when I use plastic utensils so I like to have my good ol’ stainless steel forks and spoons at the ready. Besides, they’re easy to wash and stash away.
Here in California, most people use cloth bags for purchasing groceries and small items because of legislation that has created a ban on plastics. At first, it was inconvenient, and I ended up buying cloth bags when I would forget mine. But after a couple of years, I always remember to take my cloth bags with me. I even carry a compact bag in my purse!
With my second baby (Jaclyn), we used cloth diapers. Things have changed quite a bit since my mother used cloth diapers and safety pins. With Velcro and diaper wraps, changing diapers is easy. Besides, I still believe that disposable diapers with the chemicals and gels make it more difficult to potty train babies. Nobody likes to sit in a wet cloth diaper!
If you think of other ways to reduce your use of plastics, share them here!