Eco-friendly alternatives to plastic
Plastic was introduced less than 100 years ago, but it has now become a staple in our everyday lives- from bottles to bags and cars to computers, it is unavoidable.
Unfortunately, this miraculous invention is wreaking havoc on the environment. Almost 90% of plastic ends up in oceans and landfills and almost all of the plastic ever produced in the world still exists.
Taking a step against this monstrous polluting agent, Maharashtra recently enforced a ban on plastic becoming the 18th state to do so. While the majority has welcomed the move, some are perplexed as to how they would survive without using bottles, bags and other products.
But it’s not as though there are no alternatives to plastic. Before the advent of plastic bags, we did survive and we lived in a cleaner environ.
We carried cloth bags to buy groceries which were packed in paper bags. We carried “dabbas” from home for oils and ghee or were given tin containers. Milk came in glass bottles which were exchanged for fresh ones the next day. Wedding lunches were served in banana leaves or stitched plates from peepul leaves. And all these didn’t pollute our environment, choke our cities or starve our innocent bovine or aquatic friends.
Cut to present, as most of us are hopping on the bandwagon of saying no to plastic, there are various eco-alternatives that one could adopt.
Swap your plastic bags with cloth or starch bags:
Worldwide, about two million plastic bags are used every minute. Now imagine the amount of waste they create! The only way to cut down the waste is to replace single-use plastic bags with reusable bags. Each reusable bag can eliminate hundreds (if not thousands) of plastic bags. Also, alternatives like cloth bags do not cost much and can be made at home too.
It’s common for us to buy bottled water when we are outdoors or traveling. These bottles are either trashed or end up being used at home- both equally harmful to nature and our health. One plastic bottle takes a thousand years to degrade. Also according to statistics, a person who drinks one liter of bottled water a day consumes 10,000 microplastic particles per year.
The best way to do away with plastic bottles is to switch to glass or stainless steel bottles. These bottles can be refilled (economical, right?) and are not at all harmful to nature or to your health.
Replace plastic cutlery with edible cutlery:
Edible cutlery has a great potential to prevent waste in form of spoons, and forks that are made of either plastic or thermacol. It can also help us change the way we eat and think about generating waste.
Say no to straws:
The world sips through one billion straws a day. A straw takes 200 years to break down and when it does, the tiny microplastics end up everywhere- from oceans to our tap water. Too much trouble, isn’t it, for something that we use for a couple of minutes and then throw away? It’s better to make the big switch to other alternatives- glass, steel or paper straws.
Refuse disposable coffee cups:
Disposable- this should be your least favorite word! It gives an impression that an object is a throwaway thing and can be winked out of existence. But everything ends up somewhere. A paper cup if not holding your coffee will probably end up in the ocean. Disposable cups may sound great for your convenience but are terrible for the planet. The solution? Take some time and have your coffee at the café itself. If not, then opt for reusable cups.
Switch to toothbrushes made from bamboo:
Toothbrushes are the second largest plastic waste generated after plastic bags. In India itself, nearly 150 million toothbrushes are thrown out in the garbage every month. One toothbrush can take up to 400 years to decompose. Switching to bamboo may be a small step but will make a huge difference to the planet.
Say yes to bio-degradable plates:
Plates made out of wood or dried leaves have always been visible in India. While they might not have been used as widely, now is the time to use them as they are bio-degradable, cost-effective and beat the use of single-use plastics.
For storage purposes:
For storing food in the refrigerator, you can use steel containers instead of plastic ones. Steel containers are refrigerator safe and sturdy. Glass storage containers are also a viable option as they can also be used to reheat food in the microwave.
There are various ways to substitute plastic in our lives so that we can build a better home for the future generations to come. After all, we have only one planet Earth- we can’t abandon it. We have to take care of nature so that it doesn’t “dispose” of us!