Annually, over 500 billion plastic bags are used globally, and there are many issues linked to this. Firstly, the production of the plastic bags involves a high level of pollution. Secondly, the average lifespan of a plastic bag is 12 minutes, meaning that plastic bags are quickly being dumped in exchange for new plastic bags. The result is a downward spiral, where more plastic bags are produced, and consequently more plastic bags end up in nature. And as plastic bags are not biodegradable, this has massive consequences for the survival of essential ecosystems in the wild.
Plastic bags are, of course, not the only sinner when it comes to single-use plastic. It is estimated that 85% of marine pollution is plastic waste and the EU decided to address the issue by passing the Single-UsePlastics Directive in 2019, described as a holistic effort to “turn of the tap”of plastic pollution. It’s a start in the fight against plastic pollution, however, it does not mean that the shelves are empty when it comes to single-use plastic.
So how can you avoid single-use plastic? The next tip may help you!
In order to minimize plastic pollution in the environment, reusable alternatives are a great tool, and the list of these alternatives is long; reusable water bottles, straws, grocery bags, reusable Tupperware instead of small single-use plasticbags and so on.
It is often debated whether the alternatives make a difference if the production of them is more polluting than the production of e.g., single-use plastic. For example, the pollution in the production of a single-use plastic bag is much smaller than that of a cloth bag. However, the lifespan of a cloth bag is much longer than a plastic bag, and they are less common as dump and pollution in nature after use. Furthermore, the pollution of plastic is much more harmful to ecosystems than cloth bags. The best alternative in this case would be biodegradable paper bags, but as their functionality and lifespan is low, the cloth bags seem to be the best alternative. Here, it’s important to use them for as a long as possible and consider upcycling the material when the time comes.
The term, eco-friendly products, covers a wide range of products, and by committing to using them, you can help prevent harmful chemicals from ending up in the environment. As a consumer, you can look for specific certificates that label products as eco-friendly – e.g., the EU Ecolabel.
It’s no secret that the production of paper includes deforestation of valuable trees, impacting the climate and ecosystems. Minimizing paper in your everyday life can be very easy; think before you print and ask yourself if it is necessary to have the specific item in paper form.
You can take paperless notes, create digital shopping lists, and use online or cloud storage for your files. Furthermore, current technology allows people and businesses to minimize or even eliminate the use of paper – e.g., instead of handing out paper flyers, businesses could let you scan a QR-code so you can get the information on your smartphone.
It sounds easy, but it works; drive less. Globally, transportation accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of emissions each year. In the US, cars are the leading cause of air pollution, while airplanes and cruise ships create greater emissions per voyage per person.
So, what can you do to make a difference? Choose more sustainable options; walk, cycle, or use public transportation when it’s possible. Public transportation can also have a high level of pollution, however, the emissions per voyage per person is potentially lower due to the amount of people who use them. If you decide to use your car as transportation to e.g., work, consider making a carpool with colleagues, so you minimize the number of cars on the road and emissions per person.
Firstly, it’s always a good idea to recycle by putting your rubbish in the correct bins. Secondly, you can try to reuse (and upcycle) items for as many times as possible. Many items often end up in the bin after use, even though they can be reused:
· Glass jars can be reused as containers
· Newspapers can be used for different purposes e.g., for protecting surfaces when you paint or spray, or to dry wet shoes after a rainy day out
· Bathroom items such as toothbrushes can be boiled and reused for cleaning small areas
· Material from old clothes can be upcycled e.g., for cleaning purposes
The list is long, and only your imagination sets the limit when it comes to re- and upcycling.
While the fashion industry as a whole is one of the biggest sinners when it comes to pollution, the term, fast fashion, refers to cheap, trendy clothing that is produced at breakneck speed to meet consumer demands. The idea is that the clothing is produced at a low cost, shipped out to the consumers who wear it for a short period until they buy new fast fashion products. As the cost of the production is held at a low, workers are often underpaid, and there is little or no consideration to environmental effects of the used material or process.
There are a few tips on how you can avoid fast fashion: 1. Buy less clothes, 2. Shopsecond-hand clothes, 3. Be aware of who made your clothes, 4. Avoid certain materials, 5. Hold on to your clothes a little longer, and 6. Donate your used clothes or upcycle the material.
You probably hear it a lot, but the meat on your plate comes at a cost for the environment. Consequently, eating less meat can benefit the environment, while it also affects your body; eating less meat is naturally going to lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. While the idea of going totally meat free can be very difficult for some people, introducing one or two meat free dinners a week can also make a difference. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be equivalent of taking over 5 million cars off the roads annually.
Growing and harvesting as much as your food as possible cuts out part of the carbon emissions of the transportation process. Furthermore, it reduces pesticide and fertilizer use, it fosters a connection with nature, it provides better nutrition, and it also tastes better!
If you live in an apartment, or just don’t have the possibility to grow your own fruit and vegetables, you can try initiatives like Ugly Food, where you can buy products that would normally end up in a bin because of their visual appearance.
As human activity is degrading ecosystems and driving biodiversity loss faster than ever, there is a need for initiatives that can prevent this. Most people tend to like their gardens neat and tidy, but often this has negative consequences for the surrounding environment. The purpose of rewilding is to create a natural environment for plants and insects which provides the right circumstances for different ecosystems.
On a local level, you can help by rewilding parts of your garden by letting your grass and different plants grow, planting a mini meadow to attract certain insects, creating a log pile for insects, reduce hard landscaping and fencing, and leave a few undisturbed areas for smaller animals.
We hope that the tips above can inspire you and the people around you to join us in the pursuit of a more sustainable world. Remember to follow our social media channels, if you want to see our journey in developing our product, EcoFLEXY, which can be used as a sustainable replacement in a variety of products.