by Cheryl Tan
We’ve all learnt about “Reduce, Resue, Recycle”, but how much of it do we really put into practise in school, at work or at home? Reducing our microplastic footprint is simple if we all make a conscious effort to make small lifestyle changes when we go out shopping or eating. Here are 6 easy ways you can start:
1. Say NO to single-use plastics
90% of the plastic items in our lives are used once and thrown: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cups, bubble tea cups, etc. It is easy to also say no to plastic straws – it’s also easy and cheap to replace single-use plastics with reusable versions and only takes a few times of bringing your own bags to the supermarket, silverware to the office, or travel mug to Starbucks before it becomes a habit.
2. Why buy drinking h20?
Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles end up in the landfill. Imagine how much waste we can reduce by carrying a reusable bottle in your bag. If space is an issue, there are even collapsible ones you can hang onto your keychain. (You can get ones with an in-built filter if you’re worried about the quality of local tap h20). Not only do you save money buying water for a whole year, you’ll need not worry about BPA possibly leaching into that bottled water you just purchased.
3. Look out for microbeads
The little plastic beads we find in many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants and out into the open ocean. They also look just like food to some marine animals, and the microplastics will somehow end up in our food chain. If you don’t want to eat microplastics, opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal, salt or crushed walnuts in natural beauty stores such as Lush.
4. Home-cooked food or BYO cutlery
Not only is it healthier, but home-cooked food also reduces the need for takeout containers and single-use plastic bags. If you do order in or eat out, tell the cafe you don’t require any plastic cutlery and for extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.
5. Purchase items secondhand
This might be a tough sell to fashionistas out there, but hear me out. 63% of clothes are made from plastic (such as polar fleece, which is made from PET plastic) or a mix of cotton and polyester. Each time we wash these clothes, millions of plastic fibres end up in the wastewater when your clothing sheds. There are several secondhand shops around as well as a multitude of “buy-swap-sell” Facebook and social media groups where you can snag a good deal. It’s a win-win for the environment and your wallet.
It seems obvious, but we’re not doing a great job of it. Less than 14% of plastic packaging is recycled. Many of us get overwhelmed with what can and can’t go in the bin. A simple way is to head to NEA’s new intiative outlining what can and can’t be recycled : https://www.towardszerowaste.sg/recycle/what-to-recycle/