There is a movement happening across the world. Countries, communities, corporations and individuals alike are taking a stand against plastics. Bottled water is only a fraction of the problem, as our waterways and oceans fill up with shopping bags, drinking straws, takeout containers, cutlery, plastic parts, PET pellets and micronized plastics. Single-use plastics, in particular, are the focus of what to eliminate first.
As North American consumers, it can be near impossible to eliminate single-use plastics altogether. The majority of our food comes in packaging, and much of it is not even recyclable. By bringing your own reusable shopping and produce bags to the grocery store, this act alone can help you significantly cut down on your “plastic footprint”.
Did you know that Bangladesh, Rwanda, China, Taiwan, Macedonia, Kenya, California, and most of Australia, have banned lightweight plastic grocery bags? It is embarrassing to me that Canada and the US have not banned them as well. There are many technologies now that can make a functional compostable or biodegradable grocery bag.
By frequenting farmer’s markets and buying things directly, without packaging, this is another great step in the right direction, and also helps reduce your carbon footprint by buying local.
Invest in a water filtration system and stop buying bottled water. There are plenty of great options out there. Not only will a filter system save you money in the long run, but the water is also much better for your health and your Kombucha SCOBY will appreciate it too since chlorine can kill the living bacteria.
Many large chain restaurants have responded to the plastics crisis by banning straws. You may find paper ones available sometimes as a substitute, but better yet – why not carry your own reusable one?
The same applies to cutlery and plastic food containers. Invest in stainless steel Tiffins or a good set of glass containers. These will by far outlast any plastic containers and there is no danger of leaching toxic chemicals into your food when freezing or reheating in the container. Paper takeout cups are a sneaky source of plastic, as the cups are coated in a thin layer to make them waterproof. Get yourself a nice stainless steel travel mug if you are a frequent consumer of coffee on the go.
Many brands of dishwasher and laundry pods contain micronized plastic beads for their scrubbing agent. If you can’t find a natural product (and this can be tricky since they don’t list ingredients) do nature and your hands a favour by simply hand washing your dishes with a natural liquid soap. Your dishes will benefit from less wear and tear, and the microbiome of the skin on your hands will also benefit as well. Having regular exposure to the bacteria from our food on dirty dishes actually helps to build the immune system and lessen food allergies. Don’t forget to replace that plastic dish sponge while you’re at it!
Synthetic clothing contributes to an alarming amount of plastics in our water sources. A global study revealed 83% of tap water samples contained plastic fibres. Opting for clothing with natural fibre content can help reduce your personal impact of this problem.
Before making a purchase, take a moment to consider a few things.
- Is there an alternative solution? ie. Reusable cotton grocery bags.
- Does this come in less or no plastic packaging? Is buying in bulk or refillable format available?
- Is this purchase necessary?
- Could I find this item second hand?
- Is this item available in a different material that may be more natural?
Every conscious decision helps.
As a business owner, I struggle with my choices (ecology, functionality and cost) around the items I offer and the packaging I use. I use glass, stainless steel, and wood as often as possible. But, finding the compromise between ecology, functionality, and expense in packaging has been difficult. In retail locations, the brew kit packaging has been the glass jar itself. But, shipping a glass jar that arrives intact has required the use of some plastic so I’ve invested in a custom bubble bag with the smallest amount of plastic I can manage. It’s actually very cool and I challenge you to find ways to reuse them. I endeavour, as my company grows, to be able to afford a 100% compostable packaging but for now, I encourage you to reuse, compost and recycle our packaging.
The concept of Karma is not a far-off ideology, only applicable to reincarnated lives. It’s about the cause and effect of our actions, no matter how big or small. How we choose to live our lives, spend our money, curate our possessions, all create an outcome. The power to make choices and decisions is within us all. We all have the ability to affect change for future lives and generations, immediate and far-reaching. You are in control of your own Karma, your legacy. Let this empower you and do what you can to empower others, too. Share the culture of Karma whenever you can.