If theres one thing everyone knows about me, it’s that I have a hard time with change. I wear the same pair of shoes daily, have used the same toothbrush brand since I was young, only use one water bottle even though I have 8 more in my kitchen that never get touched, and I have worn pearl earrings since my freshman year of high school. All of these may seem small, but they make me who I am today. Plastic has a big part in my life, from the food I eat to the clothes I wear, but so does the Earth. I love looking at the trees as I ride up the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall, running across a grass soccer field with my dog, and going on picnics with my friends at our local park. If I want to keep enjoying these things, I know I need to do my part in making a change towards less plastic and more sustainable practices.
When evaluating my recent Harris Teeter trip last week, I noticed every item I picked up contained at least one little piece of plastic, and most were even fully made of plastic. So how do I change this? The first step is becoming aware and educated. Throughout my last month in my Swimming In Plastic Soup course, I was able to learn about different types of plastic and their impacts on the earth. The next step was to list things I cannot live without, and simply find a less-plastic alternative. After looking into this, I realized how simple it can be to make changes.
My second step is to take the initiative and change one thing at a time. When going in college, I purchased Cleancult Laundry Detergent. Their packaging is 80% paper, 15% PE (polyethylene), and 5% aluminum; all materials that can be easily broken down and recycled at local recycling centers. This is one of my favorite purchases in my journey to having less plastic waste because it is an item that I use weekly, plant based, comes in a variety of scents, and cost the same as other detergent brands found in stores, such as Tide. I have also purchased toothpaste tablets from Bite, and shampoo/conditioner bars from a local shop in my home town. All of these items are either package free, or come in 100% recyclable packing that will be properly disposed of.
Being 100% plastic free is not always obtainable though. One plastic item I cannot replace is my debit card; I carry it everywhere with me. I use it to pick up food, purchase groceries, buy clothes, get paid at my job, even pay my college tuition every semester. This one little plastic card has been swiped thousands of times since 2019. There are now things such as apple pay, where you can just use your phone and tap to pay directly from there, but since it is such a new system, many places do not even have it established yet. Many places do not take cash either, due to the change shortage that recently occurred within the past year, as well as the pandemic and trying to cut down contact. Luckily this is a reusable item and only needs replacing once every three years under normal circumstances.
Although changing up things in your life may seem unobtainable, small changes can really make a big difference and they start to add up, sometimes all it takes is a little push.