I remember my surprise when I first learned that we were sending our plastic waste to China. I wondered why they would take our waste and poison their own people with their midnight burns. Then when China refused to take our waste for political reasons, our plastic waste was diverted to Malaysia. And today, our chemical industry lobbyists are pushing Kenya to take our plastic waste. This is obscene. Why should other countries have to take our plastic waste?
Last year, we shipped more than ONE BILLION POUNDS of PLASTIC WASTE to other countries. 180 countries around the world process our plastic waste because the petroleum and chemical industry has made us addicted to single-use plastics.
Everything from shampoo bottles to take-out containers to food packaging to product packaging is wrapped in plastic. We need to demand that manufacturing companies stop using single-use plastic. Only then will they use glass, aluminum, steel, or other materials that can be reused.
Here are some easy things you can do to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you consume:
1. Use your own take-out containers
When I eat out, I bring my glass Tupperware containers and fill them with leftovers at the end of my meal. One server actually gave me a 10% discount for bringing my own containers, and another server was so thrilled to see them that she walked around the restaurant to show other diners! I keep about 10 containers in my trunk so I always have them when I need them. It gives me time to wash them and remember to put them back in my car.
2. Buy in bulk
I buy most things in 5-gallon containers and then repackage them in my glass containers. I like the way my pantry looks filled with glass containers of all sizes and shapes. I make labels so I remember exactly what is inside and the date it was purchased. I just bought a big freezer to store my seafood, fruit, and nuts. This saves me lots of money and reduces the amount of time I have to shop.
3. Use glass water (drink) bottles
I carry my glass water bottles with me (when I remember), but I’ve been placing 4-5 extra glass drink containers in my trunk so I always have them. When getting drinks at Jamba Juice-type stores, I ask them to fill up my glass containers. If I don’t have my containers with me, I will only buy drinks sold in glass containers. There aren’t many options but I search until I find a glass container – trying to support those companies that sell drinks in glass. Then, I reuse the glass containers forever. They are perfect to keep in my trunk or to give to friends when they forget theirs!
4. Boycott products sold in single-use plastic
I refuse to buy salads in plastic clamshells. While it is convenient and tempting, I don’t want to support businesses that package food in single-use plastic containers. I just go home and make a salad at a fraction of the cost. When shopping on Amazon.com, I choose products with the least amount of packaging as possible. I especially don’t like giant, thick clamshells that hold a tiny product. It is completely unnecessary and it’s a royal pain to open. Besides, these companies are using giant plastic to make the product appear larger so they can charge more money for the product. It’s a marketing scam that is also an environmental problem.
It’s time to stop using single-use plastic and force manufacturers to provide reusable alternatives. Why should Kenya be pressured to take our plastic waste simply because we’re too lazy and entitled?