While late night scrolling through my facebook feed, I stumbled upon an article and video that got me thinking. I decided to try to give up single use plastic for lent. I wish I could say I gave up all plastic, but I started with what I thought my 9 month pregnant self could manage. I gave up plastic while outside my house, and all it took was 3 things in my purse, will power, and change. (Click the photo below of a diver holding a stack of straws gathered in a 20 minute snorkel to read the article and watch the video that started it all.)
First the three things:
I carried a water bottle (Swell Bottle), an extra bag (Envirosax), and a reusable coffee cup (Keep Cup) with me at all times. Being in New York, it is not always easy to add to your bag. We don’t get the luxury of a car to help ease the load, but I found that having these three things with me was easier than I thought, and I loved it.
Will Power and Change:
1.”I don’t need a bag, thank you though.”
Having my unfold-able bag with me, made it easy to eliminate plastic bags from any errand I ran. From groceries to clothes, they all went in, and made my life simpler with fewer bags to carry.
2. “I brought my own cup, can you put it in here?”
When ordering any drink to go, I’d use my keep cup. Keep cup is a giveback brand, so I love being able to use it as much as I can. Many coffee shops, like blue bottle, will even give you a little discount for bringing your own cup.
3. “No lid please.”
Didn’t bring your own cup to the coffee shop? That’s ok, you can also try this. When ordering coffee, or a drink of any kind, lose the lid. Though not tossing the cup is ideal, at least not using a lid is a step in the right direction, and if it’s a hot beverage, drinking it through plastic is not a great idea anyway. I do understand being worried about spilling. If you have the time, sit and drink it there. I found that lots of these changes required me to slow down just a little bit, and that is not a bad thing.
4. “No straw, less ice.”
This was the hardest one for me. I love straws. I know it’s a silly thing to love, but I do. But from the photo above, it seems straws are a big part of the problem. So, this is what I learned: When at a subway/chipotle type place, the choice is yours, so just don’t use a lid or straw. Drink your drink like you would at home. Old school.
When you are at a restaurant and ordering your drink ask for no straw, and no ice (or less ice, if ice free sounds like cruel and unseat punishment.) The ice part is completely up to you, but I learned (the hard way) is that when you have a drink with no straw, ice becomes the enemy. You also end up getting more for your money because your glass isn’t 70% full of frozen water.
If you simply can’t live without a straw, try carrying a metal one in your bag too.
5. “Fill ‘er up”
Don’t be shy about refilling, or asking for a refill of, your water bottle. If you don’t run out of water, you won’t feel like you need to buy more. AND you stay hydrated!
I know that plastic bottles, bags, straws, and lids are just the tip of the landfill, but if everyone made these small changes, we’d be making a huge difference. Lent may be over, but I’m happy to say that I’ve started a new habit. One I’m proud of. So, maybe try it out, and let us know what you learned, or if you have any helpful tips of your own to cut down on plastic usage.
Happy Earth Week!