As someone who has spent quite some time in Los Angeles, I’ve always been aware of how we should be living more eco-friendly day-to-day lives, and we should try to save the turtles, etc. Seeing how bad our ecosystems are currently, especially our oceans, it’s officially the last straw – literally.
I bring up Los Angeles because it’s one of the major cities that is trying to eliminate straw use and drastically reduce our plastic waste. It’s borderline frowned upon if you’re still using a straw at a restaurant or drinking out of a single-use Dasani water bottle. As dramatic as that may sound, and trust me – I despise using paper straws, the plastic issue is truly out of control!
I am by no means an expert on this topic, obviously. But I feel as though I could give some tips on how to help, in anyway that we can, in a more grounded and relatable manner. It’s very difficult to think that just one person is going to make a difference in this already out of control situation, but we gotta start somewhere!
Disclaimer: Nobody’s perfect. I’m not saying to completely switch to a waste-free lifestyle or anything completely drastic. These are just some tips on simple and easy things you can try to implement, everything helps!
First, I’ll explain a little bit about what “problem” I’m even referring to. Any piece of trash that you throw into a garbage can is going into the landfills. But trash flies into storm drains, rivers, oceans, you name it – and trillions of pieces of trash are currently in our oceans. While no trash is good, a lot of that is plastic. Plastic silverware, sandwich bags, grocery bags, straws, etc. are all floating around and polluting our waters. Sea turtles are ingesting plastic straws and dying, dolphins are thinking that grocery bags are jellyfish and eating them. ugh.
Even though the problem seems long gone, there are simple things you can do to stop the tap of trash that is flowing into the water everyday.
Reusable Produce Bags, $6.99
I just picked some of these up today from Target! When going grocery shopping, I do most of my damage in the produce section. I’m always picking up fruits and veggies to stock my fridge for the week. But in doing so, we use those thin plastic produce bags to wrap everything up. On a big shopping day, I might use up to five of those. Yes, they are recyclable, but if they get gross and sticky from fruit or dirty from unwashed vegetables, not all recycling centers will accept those, so they end up in the landfills anyway. SO, picking up some of these reusable produce bags can be major! This pack has 5 separate bags, so I have more than enough. The produce can also breathe in these bags and they are machine washable. Love it.
Like I mentioned above, one-use sandwich bags ending up in the ocean can be detrimental, and have been detrimental, to sea animals! Buying a few of these for your lunch box or meal prep is extremely simple and all you have to do is throw them in the dishwasher or rinse them out, easy as that. No excuses, people!
I don’t even need to link these because you can get reusable straws anywhere! The easiest place to pick some up are at your grocery store or just on Amazon. If you’re always eating out or grabbing a quick coffee, the amount of plastic straws you go through is crazy! These straws are ending up in the ocean and are a main killer of sea turtles and other marine life. Keeping a reusable straw in your car/purse for your daily iced coffees or your Friday night margarita can make a small difference! Most times these straws are coming in cute carrying cases too, so they aren’t getting dirty in your purse! If you absolutely need to use a plastic straw, or are ever in a pinch, people recommend to cut the straw into shreds before disposing.
Say no to plastic silverware
I’m guilty of this. When ordering off Postmates or Uber Eats, I always end up getting a plastic silverware set in the bag, naturally. But most times I’m ordering to-go food, I’m going to eat it at my house or a friend’s house, where there is plenty of real silverware right in the kitchen. I’m sure it’s obvious why we wouldn’t want plastic forks and knives in the ocean, so I’ll spare you the details. But on the “delivery instructions” or “more” section, you can request to not have silverware included! If you are on-the-go or eating at your desk at work, I recommend just picking up a bamboo silverware set that you can wash and keep in your cubicle or bag for when you’re at a food truck, etc.
Know how to properly Recycle!
It wasn’t until recently that I really learned how to properly recycle. As silly as it sounds, I just thought I could throw my yogurt cup in the the recycling bin, or a used pizza box was fair game. That might be an obviously no-no to you, but in the Midwest, where I grew up, recycling education isn’t necessarily a priority. I now know that we need to wash out our plastic yogurt cups and sticky Gatorade bottles and Starbucks plastic cups when we’re ready to recycle them. It’s a weird concept to “wash your trash,” but if it ends up dripping on and soiling the rest of the bin, recycling centers sometimes just consider that trash, and end up throwing it in the landfill anyway. It’s like you never recycled at all!
Second point to make is that recycling isn’t necessarily helping anymore. So, all the plastic we’ve been recycling for years and years has been being bought by China, who then deals with it for us. This year, China stopped buying our plastics, because they are becoming way too polluted and congested with our trash, which is so upsetting. So now, all these things that we are recycling and thinking that we are making a change, no longer have an infrastructure to deal with it. Although I’m not educated enough on the topic to know what is currently being done with our bottles and plastic straws, I know that we personally can try and reduce the amount of waste that we are creating as an individual!
Alrighty then, I know this topic is far from what I usually talk about. But I can’t sit back and see dying sea turtles anymore on Twitter! Making these simple changes in my life, makes me feel that I’m doing the best that I can. Let me know if you are doing any of these things already or have some new tips to share with me!