Greening your life: going plastic free

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Tree huggers are the best kind of people. They care about the environment; they recycle, reuse and think differently about the world around them. They love this earth. I, myself, have not hugged a tree in a while.

Life gets busy. We toss stuff in the garbage bin instead of the glowing green one right next to it without thinking. We drink from purchased water bottles instead of bringing one from home. We use disposable plates instead of the nice ones in our cabinets. It’s quicker. It’s easier. It’s convenience at its finest.

But the environment is a ticking time bomb. And we are ruining it. We have been told this over and over again. We know this, and yet we continue to make decisions that will destroy it.
Water bottles, dishware, shampoo bottles, containers, filters, packages. All these items are made of the destructive, overly used, monster of the garbage world—plastic.

Materials similar to plastic can be traced back to the about 1600 BCE, when the Olmec civilization used rubber to make balls, bands and even action figures. Fillers and coatings of natural materials such as chicle and bug secretions gave way to modern chemical engineering during the industrial revolution. After WWI, chemical engineering took off and created the materials we know today.

There are several types of plastics that enter our homes. The most common is polyethylene. This is the plastic that is contained in children’s toys, water bottles and peanut butter jars. National Geographic also reports that eight million tons of plastic are tossed in the ocean each year. For reference, that is enough plastic to circle the entire planet four times.

On average it takes plastic 500 to 1,000 years to degenerate. That means your grandchild’s grandchild could still look at the same piece of plastic you threw away. That’s a scary thought.

As women of this world, what can we do?
First of all, it’s time. Let’s give up the plastic water bottles. They are the most used and detrimental item we have in our homes. Today, there are reusable water bottles everywhere on the market, and they’ve almost become a fashion statement in the last couple of years. Pick out one that fits your style. Try some polka-dots, sparkly stars, a classic water tin. Find one you like and stick to it. Plus, giving up plastic water bottles means one less thing you have to pick up at the grocery store.
Think about it. You can help the earth and improve your health at the same time. Buying fresh foods from your local markets is a win-win for everyone. No packaging, containers or wraps to cut open and trash or processed foods for our bodies, just pure foods for pure humans, which can create a pure earth. From red, ripe tomatoes to huge watermelons, all your fruit and veggies can be handled by local farmers. It’s a more personal experience, with quality food that can help our sick planet.

Glass bottles are the best way to handle milk. Buy bottles that can be returned to the store to be reused instead of going through carton after carton. Gallons of milk are gigantic plastic containers that can be totally eliminated from your home. In another fun fact, believe it or not, chewing gum is made of plastic. You have plastic in your mouth. Think about that the next time you go to pick up a pack of fruity flavor.
That’s step one. Phase two is a little more intense. ‘There are areas of your life other than food that you can make plastic free. It may not be the most glamorous way to live, but the earth will shine a little brighter thanks to your efforts. Since some clothing can have plastic elements in it, choose clothing with softer, organic fibers, make your own clothes or check out the local shops. Some of the most interesting treasures can be found in your own back yard.
Even during the holidays, artificial Christmas trees are plastic. If we are saving the earth, why not do it the natural way? Try an all-natural pine tree this December. It will make your home a little fresher, too. The smells, the liveliness, and the tradition could make the holidays at home a whole new experience.

Children’s toys contain large amounts of plastic; there’s nothing wrong with the toys that your older sister’s children have outgrown. With a little sanitation, maybe a coat of paint, they are as good as new, if not even better.
We can all make a change and do our little part. Start with one thing at a time. Don’t buy your dog that plastic bowl; don’t buy that brand new DVD. Take care of what you have, start caring about our planet, hug a tree and help save what we have destroyed—one material at a time. HLM

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