The world is on all sorts of fire, my dear internet friends, and the soft carbon of my rage is hardening into this weird diamond of cynicism and I’m not really sure what to do with it?
And while I don’t normally feel like writing here is oiling cogs of capitalism, I can’t in good faith talk about candles and shoes and bath bombs today when all I want to do is yell at all the state senators, while maybe asking who hurt them and what they have against the extremely sound logic of reproductive justice?
So, with that in mind… let’s talk about single-use plastic instead!
This is not a groundbreaking concept, and if you followed the whole straw thing last year, you’re all read up, but single-use plastic is just what it sounds like: plastics that are used once (think straws, utensils, grocery bags, the like).
Why are these a problem? These plastics are mostly not recyclable, take hundreds if not thousands of years to break down naturally, and when they do, they can release chemicals into our ecosystem that disrupt our endocrine systems, which can effect our immune and reproductive systems. All in all, bad news.
The good news is, there are a lot of products you can buy that will help you reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use day-to-day. Read up, buy some stuff, funnel your rage into something that does just a little bit of good in the world.
Here are four items to get you started.
Reusable Coffee Cup
Porter Cup – Amazon
Sure, most coffee places have paper cups and sleeves, but the sippy cup lid is the most worrying piece of this equation. Even if you’re only getting a coffee once a week (and let’s be real, who is popping into sbux that infrequently if you have a caffeine addiction?), you’re tossing 52 of those plastic lids into the garbage every year. And don’t even get me started on the plastic used for iced drinks. Get a tumbler, y’all.
Most coffee places are super cool about patrons using their own travel mugs, so don’t feel bad about being a bother or an inconvenience or fussy for asking them to use your own. And if they aren’t cool with it, um, get your coffee somewhere else? Yikes.
Set of Utensils
Utensil Set – Amazon
Everyone got all up in arms about straws a little while back, which is good! Straws are completely unnecessary most of the time (unless you have limited mobility, which, fair game!) and we use so. many. straws. But we also use a lot of disposable utensils — at fast-food restaurants and fast-casual places, in cafeterias, in our workplaces.
Let’s say you eat breakfast and lunch at your office every day. Even if you bring your breakfast and lunch and they provide plastic utensils, you’re using at least 2 a day. 10 a week, if you work five-day workweeks. 500 or so a year. And that’s just you, not everyone in your office — not everyone in your building.
Bring some flatware from home, or buy a cute set from Amazon. Make sure it has a straw or two. Carry it with you in your purse forever. Easy peasy. While you’re at it, buy a giant mug and bring it to work. Use it for coffee, for your oatmeal, your soup at lunch. You’ll reduce your styrofoam/paper use, too.
Grocery Bags – Amazon
“Duh,” you’re saying. “Thanks, Billie, but are you actually using yours?”
No shame — I have way too many bags from Whole Foods, Meijer, my local grocery, because they’re bulky af and I always forget them when I’m just running out to buy bread or whatever, and then I buy more. Or I don’t. Shame, I know.
The solution? Try buying a set of foldable grocery bags — these collapse down to wallet-size, so you can always have one or two in your bag, in your car, wherever, so you’re not without when you need one.
Also, consider produce bags when you’re shopping for groceries. You don’t necessarily need to use them (you may get the side-eye from a cashier, but…whatever), but if you’re grossed out by the thought of them touching the cart (also, super fair) you can buy reusable mesh produce bags, too.
A Menstrual Cup
Lena Cup – Amazon
Let’s talk about about periods, y’all. Tampons come with applicators, and those applicators are often made of — yep — plastic. While totally intimidating at first, once you get used to inserting, wearing, removing, and caring for a menstrual cup, you’ll never want to go back to tampons ever.
You can wear them safely for 10 to 12 hours (depending on your flow), so you don’t have to stress about changing in a public place (if you have to, find a single-stall bathroom, stat). Plus, a lot of them cost about the price of two boxes of tampons, but they’ll last you for up to ten years with good care. You’re saving hella money in the long run, and you’ll never have to do the dreaded CVS run when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and watch Netflix.
What do you think?
Do you currently use any of these products? What are your favorite products to reduce your use of single-use items? Do you use a menstrual cup? Let me know in the comments below!