Going plastic-free: 101 steps

Amany Abdel-Moneim , Wednesday 28 Aug 2019

Tips to help you maintain a plastic-free lifestyle:

Actor Ahmad Magdy

Care about our planet and want to make a difference to its future? You’re not alone, and one way you can do so is by joining the global movement to reduce the consumption of plastic bags.

Plastic pollution is causing a huge threat to the environment and especially to the oceans and seas, afflicting precious eco-systems and causing a host of health problems for ourselves and the rest of the world’s creatures.

Countless initiatives have been launched globally aiming at raising people’s awareness of the severe environmental destruction that is taking place as a result of plastic waste, which requires hundreds of years to decompose. A number of European and other countries have almost stopped using plastic bags, making customers that still want to use them pay as a result.

In line with the global movement to reduce the consumption of plastic, many governmental and non-governmental initiatives have also been launched in Egypt aiming at raising awareness on the damage plastic waste can cause to humans and the surrounding environment.

A short video recently took Instagram by storm, for example, featuring the Egyptian actor Ahmed Magdi suffocating in a plastic bag that he succeeds in throwing off just seconds before he runs out of breath. The video shows Magdi surrounded by plastic wrap that prevents him from moving while wearing empty plastic bags. The video was part of the Kefaya Plastic (Enough Plastic) online campaign that calls for reducing plastic waste and making the world a better place for us to live in. 

Though the idea of reducing plastic consumption is very important for the globe, we still don’t seem to be doing enough to stop using it. However, we can all take small steps and stop certain routines in our daily lives that can help to create a bigger impact when sustained.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a plastic-free lifestyle:

Invest in a reusable coffee cup:

If you’re a regular takeaway coffee buyer, take your own clean thermos instead of using the café’s cardboard cup with its plastic lid or styrofoam or plastic cups.

Stop buying plastic lighters:

Rather than buying endless plastic lighters, purchase a packet of matches or a refillable lighter that can be reused again and again instead.

Recycle your children’s plastic toys:

If your children’s old toys are not broken, don’t throw them away. Consider donating them to a daycare or kindergarten instead. 

Use your own shopping bags:

Even if you don’t have environmentally friendly plastic bags, just reusing plastic bags from your own kitchen cupboard when you go shopping can still help to reduce waste.

Step away from microbeads:

Throw out any toothpaste or cosmetics that are full of plastic microbeads. These tiny beads are made from a plastic-based substance and contribute to a lot of extra work at water-treatment plants. 

Invest in an electric shaver:

The plastic in disposable razors isn’t recyclable and doesn’t biodegrade, so they can be very difficult to dispose of.

Shop for an environmental toothbrush:

Swap your plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones instead.

Cut down on plastic packaging:

Avoid buying pre-packed or pre-weighed fruits, herbs, salad leaves or vegetables wrapped in plastic. Instead, choose from the unpacked fresh section and put them straight in the fruit basket or fridge when you get home. 

Take your own drink bottle:

When you’re on the go, instead of using a wasteful plastic water bottle think about taking your own and refilling it with free tap water.

Avoid using disposable cups, plates and cutlery:

Use your own glasses and ceramic plates and wash them instead of using disposable items. If you have to use disposable items, opt for those made from corn starch or paper and compost them afterwards. Or use a more durable kind of plastic plate so you can wash and reuse them.

Minimise harmful plastic wrapping:

Opt for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic wrapping to wrap your food. Or invest in air-tight storage containers that are both microwave and freezer safe. 

Kiss straws goodbye:

Disposable plastic straws have emerged as a serious threat to marine life and an unnecessary waste product of human consumption. Swap your plastic straws for reusable ones instead.

Start buying refills:

Rather than buying new products each time you do the laundry, think about reusing your spray head wherever possible. This also applies to laundry detergents and fabric softeners.

 *A version of this article appears in print in the 29 August, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


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