Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tracking My Daily Single Use Plastic Consumption (Photos Inside)

Single use plastic is like an ex-boyfriend that you try to get rid of. You know it's not good for you but you use it anyway, you try to avoid it but it seems to be everywhere you go and when you're lonely it's so convenient to utilize; like takeaway food containers for example. Although I'm an advocate for saying NO to single use plastic items, sometimes I find myself on the corner of hypocrite street and guilt avenue. In 2012 I made the decision to say NO to single use plastic items because they require lots of finite resources to create but are used for a minimal amount of time and persists for ages in the natural environment, especially in our oceans. So things like straws and plastic bags were taboo in my book, although depending on the circumstance I still found myself using them. Living on the island of Eleuthera allows me to control how much single use plastic enters my life. I take my reusable bags to the store or use boxes and if I order take out from the local food take away in my town I take my own plate. In fact the restaurant owners are so used to me bringing my plate in, that if I forget it they let me borrow their dishware (shout out to A & T's Take-Away in Deep Creek). The minute I step foot outside of my settlement or town of Deep Creek, things get a bit different and I find myself unprepared, even more so when I'm travelling to Nassau or other islands or countries. Although my rules remain the same as far as no bags,straws or styrofoam, the minute I'm in a different environment I find that its unavoidable sometimes. Especially if I'm at a party, a coffeehouse, or bar. I've come to the conclusion that plastic is simply a silent part of Bahamian culture and having these items every and any where that you go is just the norm.

This year I decided to conduct my own personal study, which was quantifying the amount of single use plastic items I use on a daily basis.
Aside from the regular bag, straws, bottles, etc. this would also include food items like chips and candy bars. January 1st 2014 proved to have the largest amount of items used as I was away from home and on vacation I couldn't avoid most things. After realizing my high single use plastic intake for the first day of the year I figured out ways to avoid certain items. Here are a few tips:

1. Mason Jars- I swear by these. Keep one in your purse in case you end up at a bar or coffeehouse. It doesn't have to be a mason jar- they just make me feel cool, but you can use a tumbler or mug.

2. Ask for paper instead- Depending on where you are there is no other option aside from plastic. When I go to my favorite coffeehouse (Cocoa Coffe House in Harbour Island, Bahamas-Hey Gem and Ryan) I get all of my drinks in paper cups now. Depending on what I'm drinking there is usually a straw involved if I fail to travel without my reusable straw- but aside from that I say no to plastic lids as well. The owners of the coffeehouse are really supportive and understand my efforts to be plastic free. Thanks Guys =)

3. No Bag Please- Do you really need a bag to put a box of matches in? Store owners offer you a plastic bag for everything these days, especially small items. Just say NO Thank You! Bring your reusable bag with you or ask for a cardboard box if you don't have it.

4. Bring Dishware-  Take your own dishware and silverware when ordering takeout or if you are adamant about taking your leftovers home with you from the restaurant, don't be ashamed to pull that tupperware container out of your bag.

5. Foil Paper- Again this depends on your meal, but ask for your take away food to be wrapped in foil instead of styrofoam clam-shells.

Every month I'll post the amount of single use plastic items I use daily. The post following this will contain my January 2014 daily single use plastic log.

Remember the R's, especially these three- REFUSE, RETHINK, REDUCE. These small steps can lead to a big difference in the amount of plastic waste washing into our waterways. It's up to us to stop the problem on land.

Take your own plate to your local take-away restaurant


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