By Larraine Roulston:
With new reports revealing that climate change is worse than first predicted, citizens as well as government leaders attending the Paris summit must do their part. One issue is lessening our dependency on oil based plastics. Although this seems to be a daunting and never ending challenge, the link how to live with less plastic will help. Compost advocates who also diligently practice the 3Rs already have reduced their need for large plastic garbage bags. If by now you have started, the following will be an inspiration to do more.
- Straws & Stir Sticks: In many restaurants, straws are included with cold beverages and plastic stir sticks with coffee. Sadly, this one time use of plastic ends up as garbage. Five hundred million straws are discarded daily. If you require a straw, sturdy reusable glass versions are available.
- Kitchen Utensils: As it is not healthy to mix plastic and food, take your own cutlery and metal travel cup to work as well as to events where you expect disposables to be offered. Use metal or wooden stir spoons, metal flippers and a soup ladle.
- Beverages: Avoid fruit and soda beverages in plastic. Instead, buy fresh fruit.
- Chewing gum: After World War II, food scientists replaced natural rubber in chewing gum with polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate. Although considered toxic, these substitutes have not been banned due to industry pressure. Once gum is discarded, it is neither compostable nor recyclable.
- Soap Bars: Choose bars of soap over liquid soaps. They usually are sold without packaging at health food stores and bulk barns.
- Glass Jars: Store food in glass. Even in the freezer, glass jars work well, but fill them only 2/3 full. You’ll have to plan ahead and bring them out of the freezer to allow them to thaw slowly. Stainless steel containers are another option.Life Without Plastic lets you view sealable containers that work well in the freezer.
- Ice Cream Cones: Often ice cream is offered in a disposable plastic dish or Styrofoam cup with accompanying spoon. Edible cones are the green packaging choice.
- Large Containers: If you like to take yogurt to work for lunch, purchase the largest container of yogurt, then spoon the amount you wish to take into a small glass jar. This way, you eliminate small size single serving containers. Next step: make your own yogurt.
- Cast Iron Soil Pipe & Fittings or Metallic Plumbing: If your area sells metallic plumbing, contemplate this option. As California’s Francesca Dunbar of McWane Plumbing Group states, “Unlike plastic piping that off-gases at every stage of its life, cast iron drain, waste and vent piping is more durable, offers superior sound performance, is nontoxic and noncombustible. If you are conscious about environmental health, consider installing safe cast iron piping that is made from 95% post-consumer scrap metal.”
- No Shampoo: Check out the “No Shampoo” approach to washing your hair. This method involves replacing shampoo with a capful of baking soda mixed in a cup of water. To rinse, use a capful of apple cider vinegar mixed in a cup of water. Once your scalp adapts to your reduced practice of sudsing three times a week or so, you will not only discover the freedom of not having to shampoo regularly but also you will be reducing your purchase of plastic bottles.
- Reusable Bags: Besides toting your own shopping bags to supermarkets, you can also avoid those small plastic film bags available for loose vegetables. Simply create your own light weight reusable bags
Larraine authors a children’s book series on composting at www.castlecompost.com