We may all be familiar with the green mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” but it may be time to adopt another R—Replace.
In this convenience-driven world of runaway consumerism, we already have tons of stuff that we don’t need, that we purchase without thinking about its social and environmental impact. This ranges from fast food to fast fashion.
Everything we purchase, use, and discard has an environmental cost. Single-use items, because of their disposable nature, have enormous negative environmental consequences. These items are made to be used only once, which means their lifespan is usually super short. (Out, out brief candle!) If the user does not recycle, they generally end up in landfills. Plastic, which takes a long, long time to degrade, can wreak havoc on ecosystems. Even if single-use items are recycled, the processing costs are high due to the sheer astronomical volume.
Many of us use single-use items because we feel it’s more convenient, or because it’s so ubiquitous that we stop thinking about our patterns of consumption. If we are to truly live a more eco-conscious lifestyle, we need to value sustainability over convenience so that collectively we can stop over-consumption and unnecessary waste. Here are 4 single-use items you can replace today.
- Plastic Straws
Consider trading up for stainless steel straws that won’t get stuck in the nose of a sea turtle. Stainless steel straws are more durable and more hygienic than plastic straws. Next time you order a drink at your favorite restaurant or café, consider bringing your own stainless steel straw and refrain from using the single-use straws provided.
- Plastic Bags
At the supermarket checkout, opt to have your groceries bagged in a reusable, breathable tote like the Junes original mesh. Most plastic bags end up in the ocean or pollute our river systems but durable and versatile multi-use bags can serve you for a lifetime.
- Plastic Bottles
Often plastic water bottles are the go-to solution for hydration throughout the day. Almost every soft drink also comes packaged in plastic. Yet plastic bottles have been known to be toxic with bisphenol (BPA), which is used to make epoxy resin that leeches out with heat application. Ditch plastic bottles for stainless steel ones, which has better temperature control, lasts forever, and won’t add toxins into your drink. Cheers to that!
- Plastic Utensils
Instead of getting plastic forks and spoons every time you order takeout, keep a reusable fork, knife and spoon wherever you need it. If you’re on the go, invest in a set of foldable cutleries with an anti-microbial container. Please remember to ask your favorite restaurants not to include a disposable set of cutleries (and skip the plastic bag too if you can for smaller orders!)
Photo credit: Harold Import Company
Cathy Chen is a digital strategist, earth-friendly mom, and part of the Junes team.