What Plastic Is Recyclable?
Recycling is typically imagined to be about plastic recycling. This is usually done by collecting PET bottles, cans and jars then repurposing and transforming them into other items of use. Recycling bins are also a common association. While these are not incorrect associations, recycling is so much more than these.
In this day and age, recycling has upgraded to a bigger scale. Do not be discouraged, this doesn’t mean it’s made more difficult to do. More than anything, it is made easier to practice. Recycling in today’s time has made more options available to go about this act of sustainability.
What Project Greenify challenges you with, is to develop a changed mindset towards the practice. With newer ways of recycling, comes a greater call for commitment and intention. Today’s lifestyle is built around whatever is deemed convenient. Therefore, to choose sustainable options over more convenient ones may come as an uncomfortable decision. Well, at least initially.
Because I am fond of metaphors, I decided to go with a superhero metaphor as we ease into this topic. Specifically, I will be focusing on the aspects of a typical superhero story.
First, a superhero is introduced, along with a strong villain character. In the early part of the story, the superhero is shown to be unable to defeat the villain. In the process of resolving this dilemma, the superhero studies the villain and discovers its weak point. The superhero then prepares, and trains. Lastly, with all this preparation, a strategy is planned, carried out, and finally, the story ends with the villain defeated.
Where am I going with this?
For this discussion, we will be taking the role of the superhero against the environment’s greatest villain—waste. In the process of advocating for waste control, we will similarly go through the steps mentioned. These steps are of understating the opponent, practicing, strategizing, and hopefully meeting our success in the end.
You may be thinking that this understanding part is all common sense. Yes, plastic and other recyclables that go to trash are commonly identified as the “opponents.” However, do you really know how much plastic is actually around you?
Why Is Plastic Waste a Problem?
Plastic waste is not limited to single-use food containers or wrappers. There is such thing as microplastic, or plastic debris less than 5 mm in length. They come from two common sources: degradation of larger plastic pieces and from microbead polyethylene plastics. Because of its minute size, it can pass through water filtering systems and continue into larger bodies of water. It is considered to potentially be harmful to aquatic life.
With plastic pieces even the size of a sesame seed polluting the environment, imagine how these can first come unnoticed. But keep in mind, power comes in numbers. These microplastics will soon accumulate to become a big problem in the future.
Understanding this much calls for more informed decisions, more intentionality, and more responsibility.
Practicing Making Informed Decisions
Admittedly, turning a blind eye can sometimes mean ease or convenience. However, this works against the concept of mindfulness and intentionality of sustainable living. The only way to practice making informed decisions is to actually start making them, and doing it every day. Deciding to be mindful in everything that you do, starts from simple to complex. These include small things like deciding what product to purchase and planning the family’s weekly menu.
How Can You Be Sustainable?
To approach sustainability in a more doable way, I have decided to identify three of the most basic everyday tasks wherein you can practice making informed decisions best.
3 Sustainable Practices:
- Reducing waste in the first place
- Greenifying your purchasing behavior
- Choosing “greener” brands
To materialize the list above, we will be plotting doable strategies for each of them.
How Can Waste Be Reduced?
- When shopping, bring along foldable eco-bags to replace plastic bags. Do this continuously and you might be able to avoid plastic bags for good!
- Use tumblers for water or takeout drinks. Some coffee shops even reward these sustainable actions with discounts!
- When in a coffee shop, request to have your drink served in a mug instead of a plastic cup. This is specifically when you plan on dining in, of course!
- If you can opt for packing your snacks, meals, and drinks from home instead of buying. Not only will you save some money, but you also save yourself the hassle of the plastic packaging.
- Bring your own utensils to school/work.
- Buy less. Only shop for what’s necessary, for the quantity that you’re able to consume.
How to Shop More Sustainably?
- Opt for brands that offer re-filling and chose to re-fill over buying it in newly packaged containers.
- Purchase items that are packaging-free like shampoo bars.
- Purchase items that are made from recycled content. Even eco-friendly phone cases are available in the market! Almost everything has an eco-friendly option today.
- Buy in bulk or consider the family-sized variants if this covers your consumption. Purchasing those small, individually packaged variants will only accumulate more trash.
How to Find Eco-friendly Products?
Choose sustainable brands. Most companies today have begun significant actions towards greenifying their products, especially in terms of packaging. Here are some things to look out for:
- Shop from brands that are Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) members. GEN members’ products are certified by experts to have a reduced environmental impact and more.
- Opt for ECOLOGO certified products. These products have undergone rigorous evaluation to be certified for reduced environmental impact.
There are a lot more of these certifying bodies that help consumers identify the greener products in the market. Make it a habit to research brands beforehand. This will not only contribute environmentally but will also ensure that you and your family are using the best products in the market.
Meeting Success In The End
Unfortunately, this last part is left unwritten. Yet.
The fortunate part is that we write the outcome of this story. We have a hand in determining how this all turns out for all of us.
While successfully transitioning to a more sustainable life is still far from completion, it is doable. Whilst we’re here trying to do our little share to help, we can also support bigger groups that champion the same cause.
The Ocean Cleanup
The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit foundation founded in 2013. It claims to clean up 90% of ocean plastic pollution. It continues to develop technology that effectively collects these plastic wastes from the world’s bodies of water. They have begun to release products manufactured from recycled plastic to fund the foundation operations. They also accept donations to help fund their cause. There are a lot of other foundations like The Ocean Cleanup needing your support.
In this narrative, where there is a villain and a superhero, I hope we all choose to take the role of the superhero. The practice of recycling is only a small part of this effort towards sustainable living. As there is still a lot more left to do, I hope that you are excited about what’s next to come!