If you have been paying attention to much news, you know our plastic use is becoming a serious problem. Not only is it already a pollutant that doesn’t break down, but its becoming increasingly hard to recycle. For 20 years China has been taking plastics from the United States, and other counties like New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Yet, starting this year, there is no more plastic being purchased by China, which means there is a fuck ton, literally, of plastic with nowhere to go.
With plastic not as easy to recycle, our culture and consumerism is facing the reality that we have way more plastic than we can handle. There are several reasons for this, plastic is often more expensive to recycle and reuse, than getting new oil. There is a problem in that we move plastic around the world before turning it into something, which when a main market is closing its doors, means that we’re dealing with trying to find new markets to reuse and produce. Then there is the blame on consumers, where most of the plastic sent to be recycled is dirty, smelly, and problematic. Learn more here. The other big issue is that amount of pollution this waste has created for China, which is part of the reason it has closed its doors.
Whatever the political dynamics are present, we have to cut down on our plastic use. SERIOUSLY CUT DOWN ON OUR PLASTIC USE. That means in every element of our lives, we need to reduce our waste. This very much includes when we travel.
I am taking a road trip through the weekend, and my goal is to use the least amount of disposable items possible. This means a level of planning ahead so that I have items to reduce my waste. Here are my tips to reduce my mess, and trash, and to do my part on the plastic problem.
- Water Bottle
- Most people don’t know this, but you can usually ask at a restaurant or gas station (with a soda fountain) that also has a water dispenser to refill for no cost.
- As a back up, look for drinking fountains and as a last resort use a bathroom sink (make sure this is not marked as non-potable).
- Coffee Mug
- You may be able to use a combo water bottle/mug but otherwise having a reusable mug is great for your morning needs.
- When visiting a Starbucks of Dunkin Donuts, or your local mom and pop, just tell them you have a reusable cup. Even in a drive through I have yet to have a coffee shop bulk, and often they are happy to give you the refill price over a full price.
- Reusable Containers
- Invest in some collapsable ones so that they take up less space! These are great for on the go pastries, full dishes, sandwiches, snacks and anything else you may want. It’s bad enough that most food is in plastic of some sort, why not reduce it’s plastic waste by at least half?
- This is also a great way to make sure you pack some food so that you reduce eating out and expenses.
- Reusable Straws
- If you feel like you need a straw, or some people just need them, then the more common and popular metal or plastic washable straws are excellent options.
What are your reusable favorites? My next steps are reusable plastic wraps made with beeswax!
NOTE: In some countries around the world you CANNOT drink the tap water, thus please keep this in mind when traveling.