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Environment: Small Changes, Big Results

Updated: Feb 27

UN Environment and ocean days are coming up this month (on June 5th and 8th respectively) in an attempt to remind us of the importance of acting now for the benefits of all. They say “Save the Planet”, I’m thinking “Let’s save ourselves”. Truly, the planet will survive as it has for millions of years. As for us, faced with the shortage or fresh water, desertification, 5G waves, air and oceans pollution, deforestation and after having lost over 95% of vegetal species in just over 100 years, we are at risk… we are going to have to face it rather than burying our heads in the sand.

We all feel so helpless and desperate contemplating the task at hand, and usually we believe our actions do not have much influence on the world, especially when the political class refrain to take meaningful action. Yet, if we were all at it, making these small changes and bothering just little, the problem would soon be over.

Theoretically, the people elect the political class which in turn makes decisions for the collective good. In practice, it seems that for a long time, we elect a political class which serve the economy and the financial market rather than its people. If we want to see significant changes, we have to remind our political representants to act by changing laws while we refuse to consume certain products in order to send a message to the economic players: If you refuse to use plastic bags and stop buying from those shops who still use them, they might ultimately get a hint that sustainable alternative are essential for the health of their business.

Below is a list of what you can do to reduce Plastic mainly, which is one of the greatest polluter, affects the environment and currently kills the ocean and animal Life.

Reducing plastic: It’s both easy and incredibly hard

Easy because changing a few habits makes a huge difference (just count the number of plastic water bottles you trash every week as a family? Opting for a water filter means a huge relief on the burden to recycle these and a long term financial economy to you. Hard, because it’s everywhere: mostly as food and cosmetics and household packaging products. And until the manufacturers are forbidden to use these plastics, or we refuse to buy them, very little will change.

On Environment and Ocean Day, decide to change at least one of your habits to be part of the change we all want to see happen:

Single Use Plastic: The Target

Some countries are starting to make them illegal. This is the good news, but in most countries like the UK, the political determination is timid and nothing serious have been implemented. According to a United Nations paper and several media reports, 69 countries in the world have passed some sort of ban on plastic bags. In Europe, a majority of countries have opted to charge a fee (or tax) to limit plastic bags. France, Austria and Italy are more serious about the problem: they require plastic wrapping bags to be replaced with compostable ones. In Africa, where the plastic lobbies are weak, plastic bags ban is strong.

  • Plastic bags

Why are we still using them? They are totally useless and have no advantages… Take a cloth bag and do not buy a plastic bag from the supermarket either

  • · Give up plastic bottled water

Instead, buy a water filter. Some electric ones are also available which make your water, hot , cold and sometimes fizzy. Enormous resources are needed to extract, bottle, and ship the so-called-mineral water. Most interestingly, many brands of bottled water are filtered tap water!!! Most expensive for low quality water that’s been stripped of all minerals. It looks like it’s what we are going to have to drink going forward because of the shortage of fresh water. But at least, let’s not pay for it.

Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or stainless steel travel mug. Most don’t recommend reusable plastic bottles as plastic may leak chemicals into the water

  • · Plastic wrapping bags

Go to the shop with your own containers and clothe bags. Not sure why we don’t want our fruits and vegs to touch each other… There is no need for most of these small and harmful plastic bags

  • · Plastic Fork, knives and straws

Decide to not buy those anymore. Many straws and seemingly paper containers are plastified. Bamboo alternatives are available. Bamboo grows quickly and is therefore highly renewable.

  • · Plastic containers:

Tupperwares and take away foods containers have to be replaced by carton/kraft ones at the end of their lives. So try to use them as long possible, recycle them to other uses and buy new ones which are sustainable. Try to think about bringing your own containers when you go buy from the deli or even the supermarket. Here are a couple of alternatives: Stainless containers from Life Without Plastic, Eco Lunchbox, LunchBots, and others. Stainless steel containers sold in camping supply stores are also good choices. When you order take away, consider asking for their packaging to be changed to sustainable materials such as kraft/carton!

  • · Household and laundry plastic containers:

  1. - Use natural rubber gloves.

  2. - Choose milk in returnable glass bottles

  3. - Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.

  4. - Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges.

  5. - Switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap and bar shampoos

  • · Other plastics we don’t think about

  1. Chewing gum: yes, they are 90% plastic. You can find natural gums though. So opt for those

  2. Frozen foods: Avoid frozen foods altogether, for your health and because most packaging are laminated – It’s mission impossible to find clean packaging.

  3. Make up, clothing and micro plastics: look for brands which don’t use plastic packging. It’s possible but it will reduce your choice dramatically. Organic Essence packages its body lotions in compostable cardboard jars and its lip balms in ingenious cardboard tubes that squeeze from the end. There are also lotion bars and lip balms and glosses that come in glass or metal containers

  4. Plastic pegs: use the ones you already have till the very end. Then, buy wooden pegs as replacement

  5. Coffee Cups: we use millions everyday and they are all plstified. Get you travel mug and ask your shop to fill it up. Because why not?

  6. Toothpaste, tooth brush, hair brush/ comb: it’s now much easy to find brands which package with no plastic: The “TruthPaste” is a brand that use metal and glass for its toothpaste containers. There are many other brand available and they almost always have removed the poisonous substances like fluoride from their paste. Tooth brushes can be purchased in bamboo whoch is highly and quickly renewable, so are hair brushes.

If you do nothing else, avoid:

Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 Other). PVC is found in many, many products and causes a whole host of environmental problems. PS contains styrene, which is toxic to the brain and nervous system. PC contains BPA. If you must use plastic, make sure it’s not #3, #6, or #7 polycarbonate. (Note: #7 is a catch-all for many types of plastic that doesn’t fit into the first six categories. Biodegradable plastic is also labeled #7. So when in doubt, ask.)

Bottom Line

The whole thing will require your good will. Yes, you will have to sacrifice a few minutes, you'll have to think about it and prepare in order to do the right thing. Yes, plastic is so versatile and easy in everyday life, yet, we just can't go on like this. But it might be the only think worthwhile we'll have done in our life, because the issue is huge, the consequences are terrible: dolphins die under 1 year old because of plastic micro-particles they ingest, birds, fish, all are contaminated and dying because of it. We are killing the goose that lays golden eggs... Act now, contribute.

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