Starting the Journey to Low-Waste Living

Written By: Helping Ninja Kate, Age 17, 11th Grade, California

The International Statistic of 2018 states that 90.5% of plastic waste has never been recycled. While some of this trash goes to the landfill, a surprising amount ends up in the ocean. This has devastating effects. 70% of the Earth’s oxygen comes from the sea and the sea life that lives there.

In addition, plastics do not biodegrade. They simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces, called microplastics. Small sea creatures consume these insidious microplastics and by doing so, the plastics make their way into the ocean food chain. Microplastics deteriorate an animal’s health and eventually cause death. To alleviate this harm on our oceans, individuals can reduce their waste. There are myriad ways to cut down on waste in almost all aspects of our lives.

Packing Meals

Have no fear, it’s definitely possible to pack meals without creating waste.

The first thing to do is to pack your food in a reusable container such as a thermos or metal box. After you’ve done that, fill up a reusable water bottle with whatever drink you plan to have. Next, make sure to pack the reusable utensils that you will need. Now you are good to go, enjoy!

Personal Hygiene Products

Most personal hygiene products contain some sort of plastic. Soaps, shampoos, and conditioners are packaged in plastic containers. Dental floss not only contains plastic but is also packaged in it. Toothbrushes are made of plastic and nylon. These products can be easily swapped for more eco-friendly products. For example, use bars of soap to wash your hands. These are usually wrapped in paper or even better, not packaged at all! Bars of soap can also be used for body wash and believe it or not, shampoo and conditioner. In addition, bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as their plastic counterparts. Lastly, silk floss packaged in glass containers is available in some stores and online. 

Shopping

Shopping greatly contributes to pollution. Many people enter stores empty-handed and leave with plastic bags filled with unnecessary, packaged items. However, that can change with a few simple steps. First, ask yourself if you really need what you want to buy. If you do, then try to find what you are looking for second-hand or sustainably-made. Second, come to the store with a reusable bag so that no paper or plastic will be needed to carry home your purchase. When shopping for food, choose whole foods without packaging. If you bring your reusable bag, there is no need to put fruits or vegetables in the plastic bags that many grocery stores offer. Also, many stores have bulk shopping or refill sections. Here, you can put unpackaged nuts, beans, tea, flour, etc. into your own container or bag!

Eating Out

Eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, can produce lots of waste. Nevertheless, you can avoid this waste by coming prepared. It’s important to carry all the essentials so that you can refuse single-use plastics and still enjoy your meal. For instance, if you are craving a smoothie or tea with boba, bring a stainless steel boba straw and a reusable cup. Remember to convey to the person at the restaurant that you don’t want the plastic cup or straw when you order. 

I hope that you have learned some useful tips from this article.

Keep reducing your waste and living that low-waste life!


You can follow Helping Ninja Kate on Instagram at @pollution_solution_

Kate’s Instagram Account started as a Girl Scout Award and is now used to advocate for the low waste living to reduce ocean pollution and to save the beautiful sea! 💙

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