"You Don't Have to" Series, Minimalism, Zero Waste

You Don’t Have to: Use Single-use Plastics

*Another guest post from our illustrious contributor (with painfully high readership compared to most posts on this site), Andrea Faught!

What I really wanted to call this post was ‘You Shouldn’t Use Single-use Plastics.’ However I am sticking with a theme!

Just for one minute, think about the coffee cup you had your morning coffee in, or the styrofoam/paper/tinfoil container from your lunch take-out. Think about where that item is now…

It is most likely sitting in a garbage can or landfill doing well, nothing. Was that 20 minutes of consumption really worth another item being sent to a landfill? Not to mention the energy required to create that item. That means that even compostable containers aren’t a perfect solution.

The problem is, it is so easy. I am quickly to head to a cafe and pick up a coffee after an especially long or stressful day. Many days I feel too tired or lazy to make dinner so I order take out, or make a spontaneous food truck purchase. My challenge to all of you is to be aware of this and to think: Do I need the container? Is there another way?

One idea to reduce our consumption: we can wait. My generation sucks at waiting. We want everything now. I want, I get. But really if I waited and didn’t act directly on a craving or desire, I would not only save money but also the disposable container.

Now you may be asking: so can I never have coffee out?

Yes you can, you just have to be prepared. Try only allowing yourself to get a coffee if you have a travel mug from home. With a rule like this you are highly likely to remember your mug! I got myself a really good insulated stainless steel mug that not only is reusable but keeps my coffee warm for hours. Yay to no more half cold cup of coffee sitting at my desk!

Once we work on our awareness, on waiting and when we reliably have our reusable mug with us, we can dream bigger. Bring your own container for the restaurant to fill with takeout (I have had success with this!) or even better bring a container with you for your leftovers when you dine out. Pack your own lunch. Going grocery shopping? Bring mesh bags instead of using bulk or produce bags. Don’t use a bag if you don’t need one. Does a head of broccoli really need a bag to get home safely?

There are many other ways to reduce your impact on our environment and decrease the use of single use items and the waste that they create. I hope this is food for thought and that some of you may adopt some of these methods to reducing our footprint on this fabulous earth!

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