Cutting down on Plastic

When I wrote my post on zero waste I mentioned some ways to reduce trash in general. I have since found that cutting down on plastic is much more difficult than it seems, especially here in Greece. There are some things that are relatively easy, but others need more effort. These are the things that I find easy, difficult, and a little bit of both when cutting down on plastic.

​The Easy

​One of the easiest things when cutting down on plastic is not buying bottled water. Bottled water creates some of the most unnecessary plastic waste. Here in Greece, bottled water is very cheap as the price is set by the government. This means that bottled water is very accessible, and people buy it all the time. Luckily, our office has a water filter and so does my boyfriend’s house. I am never really in a position where I have to rely on bottled water. I have a glass bottle at work and another one my boyfriend’s house that I fill up as needed.
Likewise, I have my own mug at work and bring my own tea to drink. That way, I don’t have to order tea from the cafeteria which would come in a cup with a plastic lid. Avoiding these things may seem small but is very effective in cutting down on plastic.
A huge portion of the plastic that is polluting our oceans comes in the form of microplastics which are often found in personal hygiene products. Since I buy all such products from organic brands I minimize the amount of microplastics that I personally add to our water.
Finally, it’s not too difficult to avoid plastic bags for produce because the supermarket I buy from also offers paper bags as an option. This is another efficient way of cutting down on plastic and reducing the trash that is sent to landfills.

​The Difficult

​Ordering takeaway presents some difficulties. It is not something we do particularly often, but when we do it means that the restaurant provides plastic containers. People often suggest bringing your own container, but this really only works if you know in advance that you will get takeaway and have a container in the correct size.
The same goes for ordering drinks that usually come in a plastic cup along with a plastic straw. This is really something that I struggle with, so I’m considering getting a glass that I can have at work to use in the cafeteria. 
One of the biggest issues I have is that almost all food seems to be packaged in plastic. Unfortunately, this is even the case when you buy from vegan or organic stores. Many times, things are actually wrapped in plastic twice. This is a major thing for which I have yet to find a solution other than simply not buying certain products and opting for products that are packaged in paper or glass. I have read that people suggest buying in bulk, but that’s not actually that easy with the kind of products I buy.
Menstrual hygiene products are a sensitive subject that is not often discussed publicly. There are several menstrual activists who advocate for a more open discussion on the matter. The fact is that women spend a lot of money on a menstrual products during their lifetime. I am interested in trying out the reusable pads, but, like many women, I am unsure if they can really be cleaned properly. I’m aware that this is a psychological phenomenon which doesn’t really make sense as we don’t dispose of our underwear after one single wear either; we simply wash them and are sure that they are clean.


​The In-Between

Some ways of cutting down on plastic are not quite easy but not extremely difficult either. While we do have canvas totes we tend to forget them quite often when going grocery shopping. The good thing is that employees of the supermarket have informed my boyfriend that their bags are biodegradable. However, biodegradable plastic bags are still problematic and can contribute to methane production. I will really need to focus on not forgetting the canvas totes or backpacks.
Razors are another thing that is in between for me. I don’t use disposable razors at all, but I use the ones with disposable blades. The better option would, of course, be to use a safety razor, but I’m still a bit afraid of that one as it can lead to more serious injuries if you are not used to them.
While I find it easy to avoid microbeads in personal care products as mentioned above, I still purchase personal care products rather than simply making all of them myself or using natural products. I have made a face oil which I use instead of a moisturizer, but other than that I still rely on a lot of products that are packaged in plastic. 
One of my favorite discoveries of the last year are soap nuts. I had always heard about them but finally gave them a try last summer. They work just as well as any laundry detergent, and I love that they are not heavy at all. I have always hated buying laundry detergent because the bottles are so heavy. Unfortunately, the soap nuts I buy come in a plastic bag, so that doesn’t fully eliminate plastic.

In general, cutting down on plastic takes serious effort, but some things are easier than others, so I believe everyone can do their part in sending less plastic to landfills where it sits several hundred years until it fully decomposes.

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