Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Getting rid of all single-use plastic in your life is hard, thanks to the plastic
industry, but reducing the amount of single-use plastic in your life isn’t and these days,
it’s important to remember that perfect is the enemy of good.
You can find plastic waste and microplastics in even the most remote corners of
the planet and in every ecosystem. Animals are choking on it and we are all ingesting it.
We’ve run out of room to put it and China is no longer accepting it. We have a plastic
Some people are attempting to clean up. Concerned citizens and the environment
groups have been trying to pick up the debris, but they are not making much of a
noticeable or significant difference because it just keeps coming. Some places are
incinerating it or turning it into something useful, and although this might take the pressure
off the local landfills, it does nothing to relieve the burden of plastic in our ecosystems or
in our atmosphere.
The only solution to our plastic problem is to ban many single-use plastics and to
cut back on many others. This sort of dramatic and effective action starts with each of
Despite what the naysayers would have us believe about the futility of individual
actions, Margaret Mead was right: one person can make a difference. Change starts at
the level of the individual. One person decides to speak up and others listen and then
the snowball gains momentum until governments have no choice but to join the
movement. Everyone knows how consumer behaviour shapes industry. Industry
certainly knows it. They spend billions on advertising campaigns to start a trend.
What’s trending now is a growing grassroots recognition that we need to take
care of the ecosystems that take care of us. People everywhere are waking up to the
problems we face in the upper atmosphere and on the ground and in the ocean. Plastic
pollution is a big part of those problems. The government of Canada has announced a
ban on single-use plastic. The province of Nova Scotia has announced a ban on plastic
shopping bags. The country of Costa Rica has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic
by 2021. It’s trending, but to make sure the momentum keeps building so we can turn
off the taps (or slow the flow) and get started on the mop-up, we need to keep pushing
for change by sending a message to industry and politicians that we are not interested
in a lifestyle that pollutes the natural world and jeopardizes the future of our
descendants. That sounds like a vague and difficult goal, but it starts with concrete,
Start in the shower. Most showers are a storage closet for an array of brightly
coloured bottles of body washes and various shampoos and conditioners promising to
do miracles for your hair. You can pare this down to a bar of soap (all-natural and locally
made with no plastic wrapper of course). That’s it. Your hair will thank you, your wallet
will thank you and most importantly, the environment will thank you. (Your shower will
meet Marie Kondo standards too - very minimalist). Where did we ever get the idea that
we need a different product for every square inch of our bodies and for every possible
hair situation? From the beauty industry of course. This is nonsense and companies are
profiting from our gullibility and polluting our bodies and environments to boot. So, take
the first step to rid your environment of single-use plastic and go cold turkey. If you’re
like most people, you have enough shampoo and various potions to last you until 2050.
Get rid of them all at once or you may never make the leap (you can give them to
someone who isn’t ready to make the leap) and then find a local, environmentally
friendly soap maker. Pick a pretty colour and a pleasant scent and say hello to your
simpler, faster, cheaper, greener shower routine.
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