As a lifelong sport enthusiast, almost as soon as I arrived to India in 2013, I joined Chennai Trekking Club, organisation which brings together trekking, running, cycling, swimming enthusiasts – briefly, many activities promoting healthy and active lifestyle. The more time I spent with CTC people the more I got involved in their initiatives and… the more I started personal transformation. My way of looking at the world changed, I built my point of view based on community values and strength. Thanks to the CTC events, emigration was a lot easier and India was not scary anymore. That is the place where I met my husband-to-be and where I was introduced for the first time to Chennai Coastal Cleanup, annual shores cleaning of southern India. To be honest, after attending this event I became a mini eco-passionate. I decided to try to avoid plastic and live closer to nature every day. I admit that trying to balance my apartment in terms of the amount of plastic things turned out impossible to completely exclude plastic from everyday use. Even more – I was able to count objects made of other materials on the fingers of one hand. Entire life with plastic. How can we get more Eco when plastic is flooding us from all possible sides?
Even small gesture counts, as – unfortunately – we have become addicted to plastic. It is almost the era of plastic, and the health effects of its overproduction will be felt for next several generations. Maybe not everyone is aware that more than 60 billion tons of plastic waste is produced worldwide every year. It is particularly harmful because it is not biodegradable and its particles become part of the food chain. They are in water, air and our food itself. Research conducted by American scientists shows that EVERY kind of plastic releases some harmful substance. Therefore, it is worth limiting the exposure with those e.g. plastic containers can be replaced with steel / metal / wooden appliances in the kitchen or bathroom.
HEALTHY LIFE – IN SPITE OF THE OMNIPRESENT PLASTIC
- INSTEAD OF PLASTIC – USE OTHER MATERIALS.
This is a target for me definitely that will succeed gradually if I plan and realize it well. Of course some practical problems will raise everyday. How to get a bamboo toothbrush? Are detergents only available in plastic packaging? Why should the toothpaste tube have a plastic cap? Slowly change will happen as working on habits takes time.
Just one word of notice. If you, similarly to me, still have plastic containers – do not throw them immediately in the interest of ecology. That becomes hypocrisy. Use them until lifespan ends.
Today plastic is almost a part of our life and everything indicates that it will be even more of it. I myself have found out by taking #noplasticchallenge how many things are made out of it and how hard it is to eliminate it immediately. Just remember. That does not mean you need to get rid of all the plastic stuff from your home straight away. It is good to start with conscious planning, eg shopping – vegetables instead of plastic bags let’s put in paper / cloth bags, always carry your own handbags.
GATHER KNOWLEDGE AND EDUCATE YOURSELF
If you do not know – ask! If you do not know – read! Internet, books, friends – every opportunity, every source is good to broaden the horizons. Literature about ecology is widely accessible and spread online, but if you prefer traditional approach, visit the bookstore or library. Read labels, markings on products and look more closely at product packaging.
The picture below i.e. shows the images one can find on products made of plastic. In order to live more healthy – let’s find out what they mean. Each kind of plastic is made from different material and its meaning is explained on the bottom of the product. It’s a graphical symbol consisting of three recurring arrows forming a triangle. In the middle of the triangle there is a number: 1 to 7. And that’s it – that’s the type of plastic from which the packaging was made.
- PET or PETE – polyethylene terephthalate is one of the most commonly used plastics. It is used primarily for plastic bottles, for drinks or disposable dishes. Such packages should not be reused.
- HDPE – polyethylene or high density polyethylene. In addition to food container we can find this material used for production of pipes or ropes. It is one of the two safest materials for us. It is reusable.
- PVC – polyvinyl chloride. One of the worst plastics for food packaging, it can release toxic substances.
- LDPE – polyethylene or low density polyethylene. Packages from this material can be reused.
- PP – polypropylene. In addition to food packaging, we can find this material in wires or some car body parts. It is considered one of the safest for our health.
- PS – polystyrene. It is a source of toxins, should not be used in the production of food packaging.
- OTHER – refers to “other materials”. In this group we can find plastics that should not be used for food packaging production.
Based on this information, check these suggestions out:
- Store food only in containers with numbers 2 or 5
- In other groups of plastics, we should not store food
- Do not reuse PET bottles, exposed to the sunlight, especially during summer time, it can produce harmful toxins to the inside of the drink.
- Do not heat food in the microwave in products with no 7 labeling, do not pour hot liquids into them and do not wash them in the dishwasher.
- Plastic containers should be used according to the instructions on the packaging, let’s apply to the temperature and dishwasher labeling.
A safe alternative to commonly used plastics can be glass/stainless steel/wooden containers and paper. Therefore, after shopping, it is important to ensure that or products are kept in paper or under glass in the fridge. I personally promise to take up the challenge. I want to live without plastic packaging. I want my kids o live in plastic free world. Starting from toothbrush, ending with stainless steel lunch box. How do I exactly want to achieve so?
Here is my plan for the gradual minimization of plastic from everyday use:
- I’ll continue using reusable food boxes – even if they are plastic now and I’ll replace them later – they must be reusable
- I’ll use a mug/ glass / coffee cup when taking a drink
- I’ll continue using reusable water bottle – even if it is plastic now and I’ll replace it later – it must be reusable
- I’ll reuse of egg yarn and I’ll return it back to the store – even if they are plastic at this time – I’ll use only reusable ones
- I’ll do shopping with my own shopping material/cloth bag / jars / small packages
And little more.
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Self-made toothpaste
- Food containers made of stainless steel or glass
- Wooden chopping board
- Wooden clothes hangers
- Wooden / steel clothes clips
- Metal / wooden chairs at home
- Steel lunch box, tiffin
- Reusable steel water bottle
- Reusable shopping bag material
- Food from local farmers
- Start of home production of soap and detergents
I still have a lot of plastic stuff in my house: dustbins, mugs-buckets-containers in the bathroom for bathing, milk is delivered home from a farmer in a plastic bag, most of the toys… and I do not plan to get rid of them all straight away. Using them till they’re usable, that’s my point! Do you have any problem with plastic in your home? How would you manage it? Share it and pass it on!
Our Planet’s Oceans will soon be filled with plastic instead of fish! We are slowly killing our eco-system and ourselves being part of it. Join the 8th year edition of the Chennai Coastal Cleanup, South India’s largest awareness drive to create sensitize the public on the impact of plastics on planet and health. 1500 volunteers including 300 individuals and 35 organizations signed up so far. Be a part of it!
photo source: pexels