I hate plastic items in many ways because most of them never biodegrade and litter the landscape as well as cause direct impact to wildlife. Many sea creatures for example turtles die from eating plastic bags as they look like jelly fish to them, birds get caught up in six pack holders and plastic based strings and ropes, and plastic nets caught on the bottom of the ocean and lakes kill creatures for almost ever. However plastics are also very convenient and useful. They a re simply not going away and can be used more responsibly for most of us. Here are five simple techniques to limit the environmental impact of plastics.
1) Do not use plastic grocery bags when you can avoid it! Many plastics give you a choice of plastic or paper. Even better, buy cloth bags and bring them to the stores with you. Some not only give you a discount per bag, but often sell reusable cloth bags right at the checkout counters. These cloth bags can be used over and over indefinitely, and most are attractive and fashionable as well. I have several, and always carry some in my car just in case I make an unplanned grocery store visit.
2) Reuse plastic items in your house and office. Sometimes plastic bags can be reused as can plastic boxes and jars. We have some plastic jars we have been reusing for many years for example. Many plastic items designed to be disposable can be reused many times. Even some flimsy packaging may be reusable a couple of times. A little creativity can go a long way here. A lot of plastics that are normally thrown away can be reused.
3) Try to get others to reuse plastics you cannot. A prime example is plastic packaging peanuts that you may receive with mail order items but have no use for. Most packaging stores are very happy to take them off your hands! I also give all my empty milk jugs to a friend who reuses them for the beer he brews. This is much better than letting all this stuff fill up landfills or litter the side of the road!
4) You may be able to reuse plastic items others have no use for. We regularly get 5 gallon plastic pickle jars from a local restaurant that they have no use for and reuse them for many purposes, including storing bird seed, sand and gravel, fishing bait, and much more.
5) Do not buy items that come with too much packaging, and if you must, write or otherwise contact the manufacturer or distributor and let them know. They usually aim to please their customer base and may be able to make more environmentally friendly choices.
Of course the final choice, and the least carbon friendly one, is traditional recycling. I sort and recycle all items possible in my house, plastic included. Not all of them are recyclable, but a great majority are and recycling is convenient in most areas, often with home pickup.
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