Taking action to reduce single-use plastics is an important part of caring for the planet. At Seton Harvest, our farm operates in harmony with nature, prioritizing sustainable practices and promoting the overall well-being of the environment. Advocacy and awareness play a critical role in our mission to spread information about the harmful effects of these plastics.
To embrace alternatives to single-use plastics and advocate for a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle, we provide a variety of educational and outreach opportunities that are open to anyone through our Sustainable Living Program (SLP).
Single-use plastics are not a sustainable, eco-friendly option, but how do we address the overuse of single-use plastics in our own lives? Becoming a more sustainable individual means that you have to become more conscious of your consumer habits; from the straw in your McDonald's soda to the plastic bag you use to take your groceries to your vehicle, your choices matter.
In recent years we’ve seen companies address the overuse of single-use plastics, from Starbucks implementing newly designed straw-less lids to companies, like Lush, dedicating their business mission to providing sustainable packaging for consumers. While these advancements have been great, this is a matter that takes more than switching coffee lid designs. According to Plastic Oceans International, humans produce over 380 million tons of plastic each and every year, with up to 50% of that being single-use plastics. Avoiding single-use plastics in our daily lives can make a significant impact on the environment.
The most common single-use plastics include bottles, straws, bags, and wrappers. Sadly, all of these packaging materials are used by American consumers daily, sometimes multiple times a day. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, more than half of non-fiber plastic—excluding synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon—comes from mostly single-use plastic packaging.
The best way to reduce the world’s overall plastic usage is to make the conscious decision to avoid single-use plastics every day. Below I will provide a few different ways to reassess our ingrained consumer habits for more sustainable and earth-friendly options.
Rethink Our Shopping Habits
A majority of Americans go grocery shopping quite frequently. Grocery shopping is an essential part of our lives; however, supermarkets are home to large amounts of single-use plastic options. It is our responsibility to make eco-friendly decisions when possible. Listed below, I have provided a few sustainable choices to make during your next grocery trip.
Bring your own shopping bags. When heading to the grocery store or any other retail outlet, make it a habit to carry reusable shopping bags. These can be old tote bags that you received for Christmas three years ago or anything that you have lying around the house, as long as they’re being repurposed for your intended need. Reusable bags of any sort are an excellent alternative to plastic bags and they can be used over and over again.
Choose sustainable packaging. Think about your typical grocery shopping trip. What plastics do you typically use or see? Plastic produce bags. Excessive plastic wrap on produce and meats. If you’re wanting to make more sustainable choices, opting for products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging is a great option. Looking for items that are packaged in glass or compostable materials, like cardboard, is much more sustainable.
Buy groceries in bulk. In addition to choosing sustainable packaging, buying in bulk mitigates the amount of garbage that ends up in the landfill. According to TreeHugger, eliminating plastic packaging reduces our carbon footprints, and this is best done when we have the opportunity to buy more with less packaging. When opting to buy groceries in bulk, don’t forget to bring your own reusable containers with you. Cloth bags are great for items like nuts, rice, pasta, beans, and oatmeal, and glass containers with sealable lids are great for almost anything else!
Invest in Reusable Alternatives
Single-use plastics are marketed as convenient and cheap; however, a cheap decision today isn’t always cheap when that decision is made multiple times a day, multiple times a week, or multiple times a month. Listed below are three different reusable alternatives to single-use products.
Reusable Water Bottles
Microplastics should be enough to deter anyone from using plastic bottles, so investing in a reusable water bottle will not only save you money but provide a healthier and more eco-friendly option. If you’re health conscious, the best reusable water bottle options are made with stainless steel or glass, rather than a reusable plastic bottle.
Skip the straw and invest in a reusable straw to carry with you in times of need. There are many different types of reusable straw options today, from glass to bamboo to metal; there will be one that is perfect for you. Plastic Tides states that when you switch to the reusable option, you can save up to 584 plastic straws a year.
Have you heard of beeswax wraps? They’re like plastic wrap, well, without the plastic. Plastic wrap is widely used when we want to keep food fresh; however, it most definitely is not good for the environment. Replacing plastic wrap with beeswax wraps, or other plastic wrap alternatives, is the right choice if you want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. These alternatives are washable, reusable, and biodegradable.
Switch Towards Sustainability
At the end of the day, trying to switch to more eco-friendly, conscious decisions is what matters. None of us are perfect, but taking small steps towards promoting sustainable practices can contribute towards protecting our environment.
If you’re interested in more information on how to avoid single-use plastics, come visit the farm. We believe in sustainable farming practices and have made a commitment to strive in every way to pass on the land and surrounding environment in an even better condition than it was passed on to us. We encourage you to check out our educational and outreach programs, such as our Sustainable Living Program, for in-depth tours and hands-on workshops based on integral ecology and sustainable living. This program is perfect for anyone who is interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle