The world is full of plastic and a fish is probably choking on a six-pack plastic ring somewhere. Maybe it’s not technically our fault most products are placed inside plastic containers but it is our responsibility to recycle and reduce our waste. Which is way easier than fighting big corporations.
We produce a ton of waste without even realizing. Everything we consume, or almost everything, comes in a plastic container. From our water bottles, shampoos bottles, toothpaste, the cap from the orange juice box to yogurt cups. Large amounts of these products go in the trash because we don’t know or we don’t stop to think if they’re recyclable or not.
What to do now?
Let’s start with the basics: what you can and you can’t recycle. Underneath the products you use, there’s a recycle triangle with a number inside. The number inside determines what type of plastic it is which is used to categorize plastics. Usually, the recycling bin we have in our homes takes type 1 plastic.
For example, in Miami-Dade County, you can recycle type 1 plastic only but in the Village of Key Biscayne, they accept plastic from type 1 through 7. Check your local community to make sure what type of plastic you can recycle. It’s very important to know this, you can’t throw anything in your recycling bin because it affects the sorting process and becomes trash.
Here’s a link from Bay Disposal explaining all the types of plastic, what they mean and if they’re recyclable or not.
Ok, so now you know what you can recycle at home. Let’s learn to reduce our waste.
What really helps you, in the beginning, is to take a more minimalist approach to life. The less you have, the less you need, the less waste you are producing. I’m sure you’ve heard of Marie Kondo and her “Does it spark joy?” philosophy, it goes more than that. I’m reading this book called: “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism” by Fumio Sasaki.
It’s a great book. I’ll talk about it later on. I love implementing minimalism in my life. Don’t panic, minimalism is adaptable, for me it’s about being self-aware of what you own and what you actually need. It doesn’t mean you only need to own 4 things in order to become a minimalist.
Implementing a minimalist lifestyle will inherently help you reduce your waste. The fewer things we have, the fewer things we’ll buy, the less waste we will make.
Other beneficial and simpler ways to become more eco-friendly it’s to change your bathroom.
Yep, there’s a crap ton of plastic in our bathrooms and it’s extremely easy to replace it all. Starting with your toothbrush, bamboo toothbrushes, for example, are very accessible now even through Amazon. These toothbrushes are biodegradable. And, for example, wtf am I supposed to do with the ones I have? Well, sent your old toothbrushes and empty tubes of toothpaste to Colgate. They have a recycling program! Gosh, it’s the best idea so far. You send your used toothbrushes and empty toothpaste and they recycle them.
You can also reduce plastic by using shampoo bars instead of buying shampoo bottles. Good thing the majority of our shampoo bottles are recyclable. Check the number underneath the bottle to see if you can recycle it on your local bin.
Another thing you can recycle in your bathroom is deodorant. The deodorant I use is from the brand Tom’s which has a recycling program where I can send the empty packaging back to them. I still haven’t found or seen a waste-free packaging deodorant.
Also, your moisturizers and lotions can be recyclable. Remember, it’s making sure the packaging it’s recyclable by looking at the bottom of the packaging. There also sell moisturizing bars that you can use instead of a bottle and some people use natural oils that come in jars like coconut oil (messy af but gets the job done).
I found about these recycling programs via TerraCycle’s website. It’s a great website to know which brands have recycling programs where the majority of them have the option for you to print the label and send the empty packaging for them to recycle.
Stop using plastic bags. I think we should all know this by now… Use a canvas tote instead or paper bags. Seriously, it’s not hard. Don’t accept a plastic bag when you’ve purchased one thing and you can put it inside your handbag or your pocket. You can recycle your plastic bags at your local supermarkets, Publix and Target recycle plastic bags. Take them there and get yourself a tote while you’re at it.
Becoming more eco-friendly is a slow process, especially when we are accustomed to unconsciously buying things without thinking about its carbon footprint. The majority of the things we own are disposable instead of just throwing it away in our trash, we can stop and look if they’re recyclable or compostable. If we can’t recycle them or compost them, let’s try to look for sustainable alternatives.
At first, you could say it’s “hard” to adapt because we are used to being practical and just buying whatever we need whenever we need it. Usually, the things we buy are not sustainable and often cheap, and switching to sustainable products might increase the price a little bit, but in the long run, is the right thing to do.
We need to face the music. The ocean is not full of plastic because somebody else did it… Our waste is probably there, too. So, don’t act offended or concerned when you see a video of a sea turtle choking on a straw and then 10 min. Later you’re using straws. Let’s be consistent with what we say and put it into action. Also, I don’t think it’s a good excuse your building doesn’t recycle. Hey, maybe your building doesn’t recycle but you can and tbh, you could propose a recycling program too.
Honestly, I don’t know how many pictures or videos do we need of the ocean drowned in plastic and animals choking to actually consider this a real problem for all of us. People feel very detached from the problem because it seems far into the future or it feels like it’s happening in another country. It’s our responsibility to take action on what matters.
Buying reusable straws, trying to avoid plastic water bottles, and actually, recycling makes a huge difference! It’s a minimum effort for maximum results.
This post is a brief introduction to being more eco-friendly. Later on, I will share all the ways I’ve become more “green” and the sustainable alternatives I’ve been using so far.