You don’t have to look far to see plastic pollution. You don’t have to look far to find alarming research or scary statistics about the harm plastic, especially single-use plastics, are doing to our air, land, oceans, marine life, and even our own bodies.
With this Special Edition of 35 Tips, you also don’t have to look far for ideas or inspiration for changing the outcome.
Start with love.
John Wesley’s General Rules: Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. It may be easy to see things to do for the first two. But even if health or other circumstances limit your ability to act, consider the third: Stay in love with God through prayer for the healing of God’s creation and for justice for all.
Try a new lens—one that scans for single-use plastic in your life. For a week, become hyper-aware of plastic bags, excess packaging, water bottles, disposable cutlery, straws, and cups that litter our lives before they stay in landfills or oceans for eons.
Challenge your family, a friend, or your Sunday school class to become more aware of the plastic they see. Ask them to report to one another. Then decide what you can do, individually and together. Making a change is easier when you have support from others.
We live in a culture of relentless advertising, which drives overconsumption, which then fills our landfills. Be thoughtful about what you buy and from whom. Discern wants versus needs. Look for environmentally conscious companies with ethical practices. Consider packaging, durability, and sustainability in the products you choose.
When you are shopping, look at more than just the product. Evaluate the packaging. Go for minimal or recyclable materials. Avoid plastic wrappings that will have to be trashed. Or find ways to reuse them.
Are you investing in your values? Scrutinize your portfolio, especially investments that are lumped together. If you find your money is going to support fossil fuels, which are the source of plastics and carbon emissions, change to supporting sustainable alternatives—solar and wind, for example, that do not contribute to the plastic problem. Money talks, and corporations listen. Invest in the future, not the past.
Landfills already contain more than two million tons of plastic bottles; every year 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture single-use plastic water bottles; those bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Single-use plastic, including bottles, bags, straws, lids, and packaging, is also polluting our oceans, killing marine life, and breaking down into microplastics that are entering our food chain. Avoid single-use plastics. Choose aluminum cans or bottles for drinks, for example, because they can be recycled effectively. Even “little” choices make a difference for creation.
More and more products are available plastic-free. (Check these links for examples: shampoo, laundry detergent, food wraps, hand soap, toilet paper, and phone cases.) Companies like these are looking out for the earth, not just for their bottom line. Many of them also donate a portion of their revenue to other causes that support the environment. Align your purchases with your values. When you “buy green,” your dollars fund businesses with products and practices that promote the well-being of the planet.