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5 steps everyone can take to reduce plastic waste in 2019

Starting off a new year with great resolutions again? Hmm yes, I know the feeling. If you want to stop behaving sheep-like and step sideways out of an endless capitalist loop of consumerism and over-consumption,  then read on.

Waste is everywhere you look. One of the most significant threats to the longevity of our planet is waste. On average, in the West, each person produces around 700 kg of waste annually.

Plastic is my ‘pet peeve’ and provides us with one of the biggest problems. It arrived in our world recently, in 1869 actually. In the last 50 years plastic has taken over the world as we know it. `it’s hard to imagine, but 8 billion tons of plastic goes into the Oceans annually. 50% of that is single-use plastic, and this is something YOU can make a difference to. By now we’ve all seen tragic pictures and videos of the damage being caused, all over social media, so please consider adopting these 5 steps to make a significant impact.

Although large pieces of plastic (such as bags) are dangerous to many sea animals, it’s actually the way plastic breaks down into micro-particles over time that is proving to be a very tricky problem indeed.  Even the UN has called for better recycling and manufacturing measures to be employed.

 

fi ayerst

Hi, I’m Fiona. I love cats, sharks, reading, writing and being underwater.

Here are my top 5 easy steps that you can take if you are serious about moving towards living with zero-waste and especially zero plastic waste.

1. Buy a reusable coffee cup and stop using disposable cups

In South Africa, we have these fantastic re-usable coffee mugs that I just love. It helps that they are super cool and pretty- a real  ‘pick -me -up’ with that first cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find something similar in your country.

2. Make the switch from disposable to safety razors

In the US alone 2 billion disposable razors are thrown into landfills annually as they are non-recyclable. We live in an era when safety razors are no longer those old silver blades you see in cowboy movies, where throats get cut in the barber’s chair. Check them out- you’ll be amazed.

3. Stop using straws

If you feel you really need a straw, then there are alternatives. The ones I like most are the small bamboo straws that can be washed and used over. I keep 2 in my bag. They are eco-friendly and sustainable.

4. Stop using single-use coffee pods

These pods have roughly 6g of coffee and 3g of packaging and makeup 1/3 of the Western world’s coffee retail market. It is possibly the convenience of them that’s made them so popular- or Nespresso’s sexy marketing campaign, making you feel like you really NEED one of them.  Why not have some fun and fill your home with the smell of amazing brewed coffee, made the old-fashioned way. You can pick up some fantastic ‘antique’ brewing machines on second-hand sites as people clamour for the easier options such as pod machines.

5. Buy less (this is the number one thing you can do to produce less trash). 

Before buying anything make sure you really truly need it. I always ask myself a series of questions.

  • Do you really need it?

  • Is it essential?

  • Can something else make do?

  • Do you need to own it?

I think you’ll find a lot of ‘no’s’ and when you start saying no you’ll be amazed at how powerful you feel. Double power follows when you consider the environmental good you are doing.

 

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Blogger: Fiona Ayerst

Fiona is an award winning professional underwater and environmental photojournalist. Her work is published and portrayed throughout the world in numerous magazines, blogs and sites. Between May and October annual, Fiona manages Africa Media’s environmental and travel journalism internship program. 

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