5 Easy Steps to Using Less Trash
By: Haley Cottey
This is simply a beginners guide to consuming less trash. Obviously there are MANY places to start and it can seem overwhelming which is why I put together this 5 step plan to help people start changing their habits.
Before the pandemic, The EPA reported that the average American person will produce about 5.91 pounds of trash daily. About 1.51 pounds were recycled; 4.40 pounds was the rough average daily waste per person.
With COVID 19, Americans, as well as the rest of the world; has increased our use of single use items tremendously. While nature has started rebounding and the air and water has cleaned up because of shut downs, disposable masks and gloves, plastic to go cups and to go boxes from your favorite restaurant, plastic bags at the grocery store along with MANY other single use items has cause trash to spike.
In a recent article in Forbes, "Ocean Conservancy scientists worry that if the temporary rollbacks to plastic bans become permanent, it could undermine efforts to reduce single-use plastics and increase ocean plastic pollution going forward."
While PPE is VERY important for the safety of front line workers and all of us, there are some things we can each do to help off set this increased use of plastic. We also acknowledge at ExploreMore that in order to combat the trash problem in our world and global worming, it will take systematic changes, that does not negate any small steps that each of us as individuals can take.
- Use reusable drink cups. Whether you just drink water or need your daily caffeine fix, use your washable cups whenever available. We know with the current state of the world, many places are not able to take your reusable cup so don't treat your favorite coffee shop badly if they are not able to put your latte in your tumbler but when it is available, use your washable cups. And this goes without being said but please don't buy bottled water unless necessary and always recycle. It is a waste of money. We have them at our ExploreMore events for emergencies because we never want anyone to not have water but we recycle and are currently working on other options.
- Use reusable bags. Take your reusable bags to the grocery store even if you can't take them inside. If you have to, leave them in the car and bring all of your groceries outside after paying and load them in your bags there. Yes this adds time to your visit but in the grand scheme of things, you are making a difference.
- Buy cotton masks. Stop using the disposable masks and invest in a cotton mask. Reality is we will be wearing these masks for awhile so just take the plunge. Cotton masks aren't that expensive, have proven to be very effective and disposable masks are very expensive and contribute to the trash problem in our country.
- Have a plastic free bathroom. Slowly switch all your bathroom products to plastic free. Try out the shampoo bar, get a soap bar instead of a bottle of body soap. Use charcoal toothpaste tabs instead of tubes of toothpaste. Buy a wooden toothbrush and hair brush whenever you need to replace yours. Don't stress or feel like you have to switch everything at once, just slowly switch as you run out of things.
- Use plastic free cleaning supplies. Use Cleancult for your cleaning supplies. There are more and more options out there with recycled materials and refills instead of all new bottles/containers for your cleaning supplies.
A plastic free society may seem impossible and if we are honest, plastic has been an incredible product for many (such as the medical industry) but there is no denying it has gotten out of hand. We can all make small changes and don't let anyone tell you they are a waste of time or that you aren't doing enough. We will never make this world a better place if we keep shaming each other. The only way we will make positive change in this world is if we start with ourselves and ENCOURAGE those around us, NOT shame. If we all band together and each make small changes and try to make conscious decisions, then systematic change WILL happen. While it may be a while before we see that, we can start now.