This week from Saturday (2/23) to Friday (3/1) I decided to track all the throwaway plastic I used. My goal with this exercise was to try to reflect on my plastic use in order to see where I can reduce it as much as possible. Every year about 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans, which is a serious issue because plastic does not biodegrade like other materials. I could explain more about why plastic is bad, but I think many of you already know the facts. If not, I suggest reading this fact sheet and doing your own research as well to get a basic understanding. While I wait for the government and corporations to make big scale changes to reduce plastic, I wanted to take a look at my own life to see what little changes I can make.
Briefly, I want to clarify what I mean when I say throwaway or single use plastic. I think of it as plastic that is specifically made to be thrown away. In other words, I think of it as the plastic that we use because it’s convenient. This includes items like sandwich bags, disposable razors, and plastic water bottles. This means I didn’t track items like the plastic hamper I use for laundry or the reusable plastic plates I use with meals because I plan to use these items for a very long time. However, in the future, I hope to buy non-plastic alternatives for these types of items if I find I need to replace them.
As a disclaimer, I’m sure I might have missed something here or there, but what I found at the end of the week is that I actually used less plastic than I thought I would. I expected to see a list that was twice or even three times longer than what it turned out to be.
You can see my Google spread sheet here.
I think the main reason the amount of plastic was so low is because this is not the beginning of my journey to reduce the amount of plastic I use. Instead, I’m somewhere in the middle of that journey having already mostly eliminated the more obvious items like plastic water bottles and grocery bags. However, I did notice some patterns where I can improve. A lot of the plastic I used throughout the week was the packaging of the food I buy (like bags of spinach or other produce). I know in the future I can work to eliminate these kinds of plastics by buying in bulk and shopping at grocery stores that sell produce individually instead of in pre-packaged bags and containers.
This was the biggest thing I noticed through this exercise, but I’m sure upon further reflection I’ll find more ways to reduce my plastic. In the future, I hope to make more posts like this one. It’s really important to me that we all work towards living in a more sustainable world, but I know that that journey looks different for everyone. If you’re interested in sustainability like I am, I invite you to do this same activity to see where you can reduce your plastic waste. Let me know if you do. I’d love to hear about it!