Single-use plastic is a huge issue in our society, and we have all grown up with the convenience it provides. Unfortunately, our environment, oceans and animals are being adversely affected by its disposal. Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans. This amount will increase 10x by 2020. Looking around my house, it feels next to impossible to eliminate all plastic, but every solution has a beginning. I am choosing to begin with trying to reduce single-use plastics like straws, bags and water bottles.

Reducing Plastic in Toys

  • Natural rubber bath toys are far safer than plastic. They also don’t have a hole so water and mildew doesn’t get stuck inside.
  • Organic fibre toys to hang on strollers are just as fun and colourful, but don’t get disposed of like plastic ones do. They can also be far healthier to stick in little mouths!
  • Look for stuffed toys and animals that don’t contain plastic nurdles or beads. These can be swallowed by marine life and end up in our food stream.
  • Try and pay attention to packaging, opting for less.

The trick is to realize that plastic is valuable, not disposable. Single-use is the bad thing. That gets us to straws.

Reducing Single-Use Plastic Straws

  • 57 million straws are used in Canada every day – that’s 15 school busses full.
  • There are so many options: silicone – a natural substance, glass, bamboo, paper. Silicone ones are thicker for things like bubble tea and also flexible like these paper ones.
  • It’s important to pay attention to people who need either flexible or plastic straws based on disabilities or physical limitations.

Here is a great chart about straws and the needs of people with disabilities. It’s important not to judge those who must still use bendable plastic straws – there are so many of us who can make the switch, and if those of us comfortable with reusable straws acted swiftly it would go far to helping the planet.

Alternatives to Plastic Straws

Reducing Disposable Plastic Plates and cutlery

  • At your food court, or school, bringing your own containers is ideal. You can ask the restaurant to simply fill your own container.
  • Stainless steel and bamboo are great alternatives to plastic. Bamboo items can be tossed in the compost when you tire of them.
  • Don’t forget about cutlery! Opting not to grab the plastic set from the food court or take-out window is a good bet. You can get cutlery sets that are bamboo for both kids and adults.

Reducing Plastic in Food and While Shopping

  • We are so good with reusable bags, but there are hidden ways we opt for plastic. In the produce section we grab single-use bags all the time. Try the mesh, washable and reusable ones. Often sea turtles mistake any floating bag for a jellyfish, and this plastic ends up in their stomachs.
  • Even shampoo and soap can be better in bar form. Try and find a dispensary in your city where you can refill your bottles.
  • Waste-free grocery stores are popping up in many areas. They allow you to almost eliminate packaging and bring your own containers for things like peanut butter and spices.

Look Around the House for Unnecessary Plastics

  • Use wooden matches instead of disposable plastic lighters
  • Bamboo spatulas and toothbrushes are compostable
  • Opt for a loofah, not a plastic scrubber
  • Feminine hygiene cups or tampons without applicators are a good choice.
  • Metal razors are actually more environmentally friendly than disposable plastic ones