On a recent hike in the Drakensberg a friend mentioned this new craze - the zip lock bag challenge. With no clue what it is, a fascination for living more green, and of course Google, it was no longer a mystery. Beware when searching for the zip lock bag challenge, as many disturbing YouTube videos will surface of people with bags over their heads. That is NOT the challenge referred to in this article. This challenge is safe for you and even safer for the environment.
Rumour has it that a woman in America started this, and what it entails is that her whole life's plastic usage can fit into a large zip lock bag. Incredible right! It does seem somewhat impossible, so I started to think of simple ways to use less plastic in my everyday life. Here's what I have so far:
Canvas & Paper Bags
Not rocket science, but to use your own canvas bag instead of getting millions of plastic bags at the shops is a must.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Buying a stainless steel bottle will save the planet and your money. You can easily refill the bottle and there's no need to constantly purchase plastic bottles, which can take up to 10,000 years to decompose. Plus, the stainless steel bottles these days are so cute and unique in different colours and prints, you can even get yours personalised with your name. Try NetFlorist.
I know it's so hipster right...well is saving our planet too hipster for you? If it's too expensive or you just don't feel like it, ask the waiter at the restaurant or the clerk at the store to not give you a straw. It is really these small changes that help.
So these were the obvious ones right...
I then started thinking of the more difficult situations. Buying sweets, bags of fruits, toilet paper, face wash and so much more.
Nobody said saving the planet was an easy task. That is why those little packets of sweets you get at your local store, such as Jelly Tots, must now be purchased at actual candy shops where they are open and loose in those plastic tubs. This way you get a small paper bag and how you will now buy your sweets.
Buying Bags of Fruits
I am talking about those plastic bags of apples, naartjies, bananas, onions and much more. You will simply have to buy them individually, but there's a catch. The store assistants weigh them in plastic bags. You will have to take your own paper bag and insist they package and weigh them in those bags.
Buying Toilet Paper
Unfortunately, this one includes more expenses. Instead of buying your toilet paper in plastic packs of 9 or 18, buy them individually in those paper wrappers. It is not an ideal situation, but what we are putting the planet through, with all our plastic is also not an ideal situation.
Again, this asks for a lifestyle sacrifice. I recently swapped my bottled face and body wash for bars. They do still have a small plastic film around them, but it is a whole lot better than a big plastic bottle. I am still trying to figure out how to reduce my make-up plastic usage, if anyone comes up with a solution, please inform me.
I don't have all the perfect ways to use less plastic, but the above is a start. Start somewhere and be the change this world needs. Start your zip lock eco-challenge today and compete with yourself to save the planet, one hipster straw at a time!