Single-use plastics are (not all that slowly) killing the planet and it’s clearer now than ever before. These days if you log into Facebook, scroll down your newsfeed and don’t see some sort of horrifying plastic-related post then you’re pretty lucky. The frustrating thing is that simply sharing posts with friends on social media or buying a bag-for-life isn’t enough anymore.
The average person accumulates 80 kg of plastic waste in just one year; only 9% of this will be recycled and a shocking 32% will end up in the ocean. If we don’t take serious action now, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Cutting out plastic may seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some small but effective changes you can make to reduce your own usage and encourage others around you to do the same:
This one may seem self-explanatory but start refusing single-use plastics in public places! You will be a leading example that it’s not rude or inconvenient to do so but necessary for the future of our planet. If you’re getting take-out then make sure to avoid the unnecessary plastic packaging - most restaurants are more than happy for you to bring your own box. If you’re out for drinks then say “no thanks” to straws and stirrers. At many coffee shops like Lust, you can even get a cheaper coffee if you bring your own cup!
A huge percentage of the world’s plastic waste is made up of packaging from beauty products. Instead of liquid shampoo, try using a shampoo bar (testers are available at KOKOTKO). If you’re a big fan of aerosol deodorants, dry shampoos or hairsprays, try switching to more eco-friendly alternatives. My personal favorite solution is to make your own products. Most commercial products are full of chemicals that do more harm than good anyway, so give these recipes a go.
Next time you need a new toothbrush, try a bamboo one instead (available at Ekoplaza). Equally, a good replacement for your lighter is an old-fashioned box of matches. Invest in a reusable water bottle, coffee cup and cutlery set, and make sure to bring them with you before heading to the UB for a study day.
Groningen can actually be pretty great for plastic-free grocery shopping! The market takes place three times a week - on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up your fridge with affordable, high quality produce. There is a huge variety of packaging-free products available, meaning you can support local businesses and reduce your plastic usage simultaneously! Be sure to check your local Albert Heijn or Lidl if you’re looking to get your hands on some reusable produce bags.
At many of the international supermarkets in the city there is the option to buy products like dried beans, rice, nuts etc. in large quantities. So, instead of buying something several times individually packaged in plastic, try buying it once. Not only are you cutting down on plastic but you’ll also need to do the groceries less often and save money! We recommend Nazar, Amazing Oriental & Le Souk. At Lidl there are also containers where you can use your own bags to stock up on nuts. If you have a slightly higher budget, Ekoplaza have many eco-friendly options too, including compostable “plastic” packaging and cleaning product refills.
Why not try getting to know your kitchen a little better? Instead of filling your fridge with packaged meals, snacks and dips, make them yourself from scratch. Yes, it takes a little longer than a trip to Jumbo but the finished product will be easier on your wallet and on the environment. If you’re already a pro in the kitchen, try inviting friends over to cook dinner together - share your recipes and remind them why it’s important to be cutting down on our plastic consumption.
This one is pretty simple but we all need a reminder sometimes. Whether you need inspiration from others or you just want to challenge yourself even more, My Little Plastic Footprint makes the process a whole lot easier.
Last year, the Green Office organised the Plastic free week at the end of May. The second edition will take place around the same time this year! The Green Office recently had a DIY workshop and a lunch lecture, please keep an eye out on our social media for more information!
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