Humans’ mishandling of single-use plastics (SUPs) has resulted in Mother Nature’s gradual deterioration. Scientists have estimated that of all the plastic waste ever produced up to 2017, only 9% has been recycled. With plastic production projected to increase in the years to come, even continuous efforts on waste management, recycling, and cleanup drives will never be able to solve the plastic waste crisis.
We can, however, cut down our plastic waste generation. If we truly care, here are 8 of the simplest ways to avoid single-use plastic so we can do our part to save nature.
Create your own zero waste kit for when you go out
Not all places offer plastic-free options, so it’s good to have some reusables handy. It doesn’t take much to have a zero-waste kit. You can use what items you have at home like spoons and forks, food containers. You can repurpose small pouches or cases to hold your zero waste gear. Add a metal or bamboo straw and water bottle, and you’re good to go.
Use reusable and refillable materials when shopping
Bring your own or ask stores for reusable options. By using reusable and refillable materials, people can avoid single-use plastics packaging that usually ends up in our environment. You’re also showing businesses that this is a feasible policy to have in their stores and consumers welcome the additional eco-friendly options.
Buy items at zero-waste stores and refilling stations
According to an SWS poll, 68% of adult Filipinos are willing to buy soy sauce, oil, vinegar, sauces, spices, and other food flavorings in recyclable or refillable containers. There are many zero-waste stores — both offline and online — you can choose from, and they’ve made it convenient for people to go plastic-free. Refilling stations for household products and goods like grains and water can be found in our communities, too. Supporting SMEs and larger companies’ initiatives for reuse and refill can help make these upstream solutions more mainstream!
Refuse single-use. Tell your go-to restaurants and stores to shift to refillable
Engage your favorite restaurant to make zero waste options the default in both dine-in and takeout services by bringing your own containers. Opt for regular spoons and forks, not disposable cutlery while you’re dining in, and say no to plastic cutlery, condiment packets, and other unnecessary disposables for deliveries.
Tell your friends and family members about the plastics problem
The plastic pollution crisis is crucial for all Filipinos, as it has impacts on the environment, various sectors of society, as well as our food, health, and climate. The more you share about the many consequences happening during the lifecycle of plastic, the more people will understand just how urgent and relevant it is. And highlight the solutions, too! Environmental watchdog Greenpeace Philippines recently launched Ang Huling Plastic, a free docu-film that seeks to educate Filipinos on the ill effects of SUPs on communities. It’s a great conversation starter!
Urge our national lawmakers to ban single-use plastics
There is currently a single-use plastic regulation bill in the House of Representatives, awaiting its second reading, while a similar bill is being developed in the Senate. Engage your congressional representatives and our senators to pass a single-use plastic ban into law!
Get LGUs to regulate plastic use and enforce the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act
While waiting for a national ban on plastics to pass, you can already start in your community by petitioning your local government to have an ordinance banning or regulating plastics. It’s also important that your LGU enforces RA 9003, the ESWM Act, because it can cut down on plastic waste that goes to landfills or our environment. Greenpeace also has a free platform for community campaigns, the bataris.org.
Call on companies to end dependence on SUPs
Engage big brands and the biggest plastic producers like Coke, Nestle, Unilever, and Pepsi to stop fueling the climate emergency and plastic pollution crisis by ending their dependence on single-use plastic. Ask them to shift to reusable systems, which have been proven to work by similar companies and other sectors.
Which of these ways to avoid single-use plastic are you now practicing? Tell us in the comments section below!