USE LESS PLASTIC!
Hundreds and thousands, which is to say an indefinite but emphatically large number, of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, as well as over a million seabirds, die every single year. These animals die from ocean pollution, and digesting or becoming tangled in ocean debris. Marine debris is human-made waste that is directly and indirectly disposed of in oceans and rivers. Something like plastic bags. Plastic bags are petroleum-based and do not biodegrade. Sea turtles and other marine creatures mistake plastics and other garbage as food (such as jellyfish) and ingest it. This mistake causes blockages within their digestive system and eventual death
Most trash reaches the ocean via rivers. 80% of it comes from landfills and other urban sources. This waste, which is also digested by fish, can trap sharks, and damage the coral reefs, tends to accumulate in areas of slow spiraling water and low winds, and along the coast. Not to mention, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a giant spiral of water and marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large area that is approximately the size of Texas with debris extending 20 feet down into the water column. It is estimated that this “plastic island” contains 3.5 million tons of trash and could double in size in the next 5 years. The patch is quite literally a patch of plastic, exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other trash- caught and corralled by the currents.
The earth does not digest plastic. It doesn’t go anywhere. Did you know that all the plastic manufactured since the 19th century is still somewhere on the planet? And that every single sea turtle has some plastic stuck in its body somewhere?
In the U.S. we are fortunate enough to have relatively good waste management system. So we consume a lot of plastic and then simply dispose of it. It goes away. We don't SEE all the stuff/plastic that we use! It’s out of sight, out of mind! Consume and toss.
Now how in the heck does this relate to a yoga? Well let me tell you- there is this yogic philosophical idea one can EASILY appropriate: Ahmisa- the principle of nonviolence toward all living things. Practice compassion and do no harm. Do no injury though action or words or thoughts, to oneself and others. (Stuff yo mama should of taught you!) Therefore, reducing plastic consumption is a means of practicing Ahimsa.
Here’s what we can do about it: Great Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption
1. Use reusable grocery shopping bags. And always keep one with you! Purchase or make your own reusable bag (and be sure to wash them often!) I’ve found many of my canvas grocery bags at thrift stores. They are strong, carry even heavy cans, wash well, and fold up neatly. Keep them in the car, in the backpack, in the stroller- everywhere and accessible so you never have the excuse of ‘forgetting your bag.’ That being said, you can also Use reusable produce bags. Purchase or make your own reusable bag (and as above, be sure to wash.) You can find USA made organic cotton produce bags at grocers or on Etsy.
2. Use a reusable bottle or mug for any beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop. Then walk around feeling savvy and eco-conscious and better than anyone holding a plastic cup. In my backpack at all times I have: a water bottle, a coffee to-go cup, and a smoothie to-go cup. Some times even a soup thermos! Along that note, Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups. Or go out to eat (instead of getting it to-go.) In moderation of course, sitting and eating at an establishment is not only leisurely, but using actual dishes saves you from all the take out boxes and to-go supplies. And Stop using single use plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel straws.
3. Try to grocery shop plastic free. Its a challenge, but it can be done! Buy boxes instead of bottles. Lots products (like pasta or laundry detergent) come in cardboard- which is more easily recycled than plastic. You can purchase food, like cereal, pasta, nuts, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging. Observe what your groceries are wrapped in. Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Or, make grocery shopping easy: GET A CSA FARM SHARE. Through CSA boxed shares you get the bounty, flavor, and diversity of the LOCAL farm fresh food to your table. A good mix of vegetable varied by the season, salad greens, and cooking greens each week. Locally grown fruit and organic sweet corn! NEED I SAY MORE?? Here is the farm share I’ll be signing up for this summer:
4. Get you some Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk. Reduce the use of plastic wrap and zip-lock bags. Instead opt for silicon ‘ziplock’ bags and beeswax paper thats acts like plastic wrap. Jars and Canisters that seal well for storing your dry goods can be found at thrift stores. Don't use plastic-ware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box. But if they do, save that tupper-ware and add it to your collection for home and shopping use.
5. Make it yourself. Cookie dough is better from scratch. You can freeze a batch and scoop out as needed. Chai made at home is easy and AMAZINGLY delicious. Everyone should have their own home-made tomato sauce for crying out loud! Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. Food that you make for yourself healthier and better for the environment (yes even the cookies.) You can also make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner. White vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s soap both come in big bottles yes- but a little bit of it goes a very long way! You can use it to shower, to wash the dog, to clean the house, etc etc…