How Small Changes Help With Conservation
This is the third blog post in a series on ocean conservation.
I'm probably not going to tell you anything here that is totally innovative and unusual. I'm not interested in reinventing the wheel, but in helping you find new ways you can contribute to reducing single-use plastics. You might even be doing some (or all!) of these things already. (If you're doing all of these things - well done! Tell me what else you do to avoid throw away plastics!) It has always been my desire to compile these ideas and options into one place where they can be easily accessed. I think we all need tangible ways we can help to make a positive impact with the conservation of our world's oceans.
Let's jump right in with some simple changes you can start at home!
My favorite and the easiest way to eliminate single use plastic is by switching to reusable grocery bags. This was the first change I started with. I always have at least one reusable bag in my purse because you never know when it will come in handy. It helps to have at least one you can use. I also have a large stash in the car as well so I can grab them before doing my shopping. As soon as I'm done with the bags they go back into the car! No doubt you'll forget them as I have before. And if you do end up with a stack full of plastic grocery bags you can reuse them as trash bags. (Maybe do a local trash pick up where you live!)
Reusable produce bags are just as easy to use as large grocery bags. These smaller cotton bags are made to store bulk items and produce (or any small, loose items.) And really, who wants to wrestle with those thin plastic bags that take way too long to pry open?? These have been in my Amazon shopping cart for weeks now... I need to go ahead and order them so all of my produce isn't bouncing around in the grocery cart!
Here are a few more changes you can make in your home - Reusable sandwich bags are a great alternative to plastic baggies. I also have some that come with zippers and are great for keeping sandwiches contained. (The Nordic By Nature sandwich and snack bags are my favorite - so easy to clean and keeps food fresh while traveling!)
Reusable flatware is perfect for camping and picnics. We don't use these all the time but they're nice to have when you're traveling! We only have two sets since we don't use them very often.
We have slowly switched to using washcloths instead of paper towels. At first it was a bit of a pain having the extra laundry but as with all changes, it gets easier in time. And now my kids actually prefer a moistened wash cloth over a napkin while eating. (Spaghetti night makes these washcloths worth their weight in gold!)
Beeswax food wraps are a more recent switch for me but the more I use them, the more I love them. So far my favorite thing to wrap up is cheese - the cheese stays so fresh and doesn't get that gross plastic taste that is common after too long in a plastic baggie. It also keeps all the fridge smells from affecting your food when you use beeswax wraps. They're great for wrapping up leftover bread, too. Bonus - they're super easy to clean! Just rinse the beeswax wrap with cool water and let it air dry.
The next two things I'm going to suggest have become more difficult for us since we moved to Okinawa. Just remember that some of these small changes will be easy for you to implement and some won't be easy at all.
Buy food in bulk. So far I have only found one store here that sells bulk food. (Please tell me if you know of another!) And it's limited. The whole health food store is smaller than a Starbucks. But I have learned to make do with what I have. Buying food in bulk is often cheaper and it eliminates all the packaging that comes with normal store bought food. If I can't buy food in bulk I always try to buy what I need in a box instead of a plastic bag.
Avoid buying food in single-use plastic. Guys, this one is so much easier said than done! Who doesn't like the convenience of grabbing a sub to go, sushi to go or a coffee to go? But unfortunately single-use plastic is one of the biggest issues with plastic in our oceans. It might help to keep a bento box with you to put leftovers in or a reusable sandwich bag. Sometimes I just have to say no to buying that extra "nice to have" commodity in plastic and instead I make do when I get home.
I've hit you with lots of small changes that will take time to execute. You should feel great knowing you're doing the best you can and saying no to single-use plastic when you're able. If you're struggling with any of these just remember - there are more vending machines in Japan than there are people in New Zealand!
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