Our daily usage of plastic often goes beyond polybags, wafers and instant noodles. At-least, I used to think this way until I started reading about better ways to make my travel responsible and sustainable. Over the due course of time I realized that my plastic consumption is way more than what I believe.
So I started looking for ways to bring down the usage of plastic and in last three months I have seen a change for good.
Reducing plastic consumption is way more than taking parts in cleaning drives. These campaigns help in cleaning up a place for the time being but the moment you leave, the situation becomes the same.
Indian hills, especially the Himalayan regions are suffering with a huge problem of plastic accumulation. This issue, if not dealt with, will ruin the environment and these places will not be fit for travel in the future.
A recent report reveals that not only hills but even the oceans are going through a similar problem. The infamous garbage island of the Pacific is an example.
So how is an individual supposed to bring down this plastic collection on their level? Well, there are a few simple tricks and most of them are not costly at all.
Avoid mineral water bottles
Asian countries are one of the biggest markets for the mineral water manufacturers. A common belief that the local water is not fit for use, prompts many to buy at-least two bottles on a daily basis. I used to believe that the problem with local water is a hoax and white people problem, until my dad caught jaundice after drinking tap water in Banaras.
Anyhow, reusable bottles are the best solution for this problem. Off-late, I have also seen a number of Western Tourists using portable water purifier. They are really good in cleaning the tap water and most of them only cost between INR 800 to INR 2000.
Carry metal straws or use no straws at all
The annual consumption of plastic has proportionally grown higher because of the use of straws, sporks and containers. Unlike plastic bags, which are reusable, the straws become totally useless after a single use. You can also carry a set of metal straws while travelling. If you cannot purchase one, ask the restaurant to sell from their collection. Recently, Illiterati Café in Mcleodganj, started using metal straws taking part in a great step towards a sustainable future in the hills.
Use reusable bags
Plastic bags, no matter how many times you use, tear down and ultimately you have to throw it away. Reusable bags made of jute and cotton are a great alternative to this plastic. You can always keep a few in your rucksack and not only use them but also share with others who need one.
Avoid buying fruits and vegetables kept in plastic trays
Many super markets keep their fruits and vegetables packed in plastic trays to give them a more posh look. You can refuse buying them and if possible, provide a feedback to the store management and on social media that how this is not sustainable.
Use the food delivery packaging for other household purposes
When we order food online, it always comes in a plastic container. Many gourmet food delivery companies have started to provide sustainable boxes perfect for reuse. Establishments like Keventers, sell their milkshakes in glass bottles which can be used in many creative ways. Don’t throw the plastic box. If you don’t need one, may be someone else you know would do.
Bring your own coffee mug
Do you know how much does a coffee jar costs in the long run? Once used, it is normally thrown away in the dust bin. Do yourself a favour and buy a coffee mug or a jar for your needs. This way, you’ll have a mug to use and fill it with not only coffee but also with beer or mojito whenever you need it. Also, large cups of coffee (which are pretty useless) can be packed and you can leave the coffee shop while sipping it on your way.
Use bubblewrap for future use
A lot of online shopping portals deliver products covered in bubble wraps. No one knows what to do with it once it is opened. We pop it and make it useless. After this, we throw it away and it eventually gets buried in the ground. Bubble wraps can come of a great use in future in multiple scenarios. You may need one while packing your stuff or when you are travelling with something that may break during the journey. Why waste money on extra wraps when shopping portals are giving it for free?
Bulk shopping is always a great idea
Instead of buying something for one time use, you can always purchase them in bulk and avoid the use of extra bags in the future. Off-course this doesn’t apply to products with expiry dates, otherwise it is very useful.
Try sustainable clothing whenever possible
To be honest, I find sustainable clothing way more costly than regular clothes. This is the same problem with anything that is sold in the name of being eco-friendly. But this should not stop you from having one or two in your collection (only if you can afford them, going broke in your quest to become eco-friendly is not a wise move). Fabrics like rayon, polyester, acrylic, etc. leave tiny residue of plastic that eventually goes in the water. This plastic is eaten by fish and we eventually eat fish. No wonder, they taste so much better these days.
Use the power of social media to ask the brands for not to print bills and wrap the products in plastic. If you find a company doing so, then appreciate them. Tell others about the value of less plastic consumption and more importantly, start this movement from your home.
I am not a perfect human being. Intentionally or unintentionally, I often end up doing things that I normally advocate to avoid. So I won’t judge you if your daily life doesn’t allow you to avoid plastic. But I’ll surely appreciate if you find a solution even in a few ways.