The topic of climate change and environmental conservation is one of the most heated and important ones being had on every continent all over the world today. And no matter what side of the argument one stands on, the effects of our bad practices are becoming too obvious for anyone to ignore anymore; from massive fires in the Amazon and Australia, floods in Brazil, record high temperatures in Siberia, to melting icebergs in Antarctica. And if not seen on a massive scale they are seen in terms of polluted water bodies, dead sea life, to mention but a few.
Although nations and some big conglomerates have woken up and are trying to move to green energy solutions and reduce their carbon footprint respectively, this is not enough if the work is not started at the household level. After all, all good practices are taught and learned from home before they can be applied to the outside world.
One of the biggest dangers to the environment today is single-use plastics. This article is for those environmentalists that want to start doing their part to keep our planet alive by making some changes starting at their home. In this article, I’ll answer a few common questions that a person that wants to reduce plastic waste in their home might have. These include;
– What are the harmful plastics that I’m using at my home?
– What are some more friendly alternatives I can use in place of those plastics and where can I get them?
– For those plastics that I can’t replace, how do I dispose of them the proper way?
What are the harmful plastics that I’m using at my home?
Among others, some of the harmful single-use plastics you might be using at your home include;
– Plastic tube showergel
-Polythene shopping bags i.e. buvera
-Single-use plastic water bottles
-Single-use plastic coffee cups and lids
-Plastic bag wrapped toilet paper
-Cling film wrapping for food
-Single-use plastic cups
-Single-use plastic containers
-Single-use plastic plates.
What are some more friendly alternatives I can use in place of those plastics and where can I get them?
Now that you have an idea about the everyday single-use plastics that you might be using in your home, here are some eco-friendly alternatives and practices that work just as well as the single-use plastics or even better and where you can get them.
– use bar soap instead of shower gel in a plastic tube, buy soap wrapped in a paper box instead of plastic
– refuse cavera! a really simple one, carry your own (eg a canvas bag or reuse a cavera) or at least try to reduce the amount you use eg tomatoes, onions, carrots, etc can all go in 1 bag instead of 3!
– buy toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic, or that comes in one large plastic bag instead of each individually wrapped in plastic
– buy things in bigger quantities if possible eg a 5kg bag of rice instead of 500g, therefore you are only using 1 big plastic bag instead of lots of small ones. Same for trying to avoid single-use sachets eg of sauce or detergent, always better to buy in bulk!
– instead of wrapping food in cling film use reusable beeswax wraps – some are sold at Ark Organics and a few other places around Kampala
– when eating in cafes, refuse the plastic straw and go straw-free if you can. If not, ask if they have eco-friendly alternatives like paper straws, or come with your own metallic straw or bamboo straw. Personal metallic or bamboo straws are better because you can use them even at your home. – our roots Africa has some reusable alternatives for plastic straws.
– if sitting in at a cafe, make sure your drink isn’t served in a plastic cup. If getting a takeaway, bring your own reusable cup. You can shop for one at Jumia
– own a refillable bottle and carry it with you when going on a trip where you might need to rehydrate instead of buying plastic bottled water every time you’re thirsty. – refillable bottles can be bought in most shops in Uganda.
– own a reusable cup that you can use to carry your coffee, and also buy a refill from a coffee shop when you need one in place of plastic coffee cups.
– own reusable cutlery like metallic spoons and forks, or wooden cutlery in place of single-use plastic cutlery. You can also carry your wooden cutlery with you wherever you go. – you can buy reusable cutlery from online stores like jumia, kikuu, etc.
– for plastic cups, plates, and containers that you use at home, buy reusable ones in place of single-use ones. They can even be used at parties you host at home and can be bought anywhere in Kampala.
-as a bonus, in this period of COVID-19, opt for a reusable face mask in place of a single-use one and remember to wash it in between uses.
For those plastics that I can’t replace, how do I dispose of them the proper way?
Get started with a waste diversion program and you can start this at the household level too. For more details on this subject refer to my article, What waste goes in which bin? Or visit www.yowasteapp.com to get started today.
Compiled & Written by Gideon Mpungu. Gideon Mpungu is the Sustainability lead at Yo-Waste. To keep updated with any developments from yo-waste follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.