A summer to exercise better plastic-free habits
Summer is here! That means beaching, boating, barbecues, picnics and parties. That can also mean takeout food, drink containers, water floats and decorations. Please do not let that mean lots of plastic trash left behind. There are so many ways to avoid using plastic this summer and Beyond Plastic Bermuda is here to help you.
If you follow even a few of these tips, you may find that you not only reduce your plastic use, but by investing in reusable items you may also reduce how much money you spend in the long run.
• In Bermuda, no form of plastic can be recycled or composted, even if it says it can be, but glass, aluminium and tin can be recycled. When buying drinks, consider glass or canned drinks instead of those in plastic bottles. Better yet, make your own beverages at home from juices and syrups and take them along in your reusable bottle.
• If you are heading out on the boat or to a beach, take a garbage bag and separate recycling bag. Take your own reusable items with you, too — be it reusable straws, stainless steel water bottles, cutlery sets, food containers or wax food wrap. Start by substituting just one single-use plastic version of these with a reusable version. That is still one less item being thrown away.
• Buy a foldable, reusable bag. These come so compact you can fit them in your pocket. That way, when you are picking up a large takeout order, you can at least say no to the plastic bag.
• If you are buying takeout food, ask for it to be put in a cardboard or fibre container, instead of a plastic one, or provide your own reusable container. Even if this isn’t possible, the more people who demand this, the more likely they are to be supplied in the future. Remember to say no to the plastic cutlery or give it back if the restaurant has put it with your order without asking.
• As well as avoiding plastic cutlery, avoid the small sauce sachets, too. You need so many to get a decent amount out! Add your own large ketchup or mayonnaise bottle to your drinks cooler instead. And, of course, use paper plates and paper cups rather than plastic.
• Having a celebration outside? Try cloth bunting instead of balloons and a fabric tablecloth instead of a plastic one. Both of these are less likely to blow away and can be used again for occasion after occasion.
• Finally, if you enjoy a plastic water float, tie it to your boat so it doesn’t float away and become plastic trash.
Why are we asking you to do this and what difference will it make to your lives?
We are asking because the future and health of our children and grandchildren, as well as our own, depend on it.
Plastic pollution is choking us as well as our environment. On average, we ingest up to five grammes of plastic a week; the size of a credit card’s worth. Plastic components are in the air we breathe and the food we eat.
The chemicals from plastic have been linked to cancer, diabetes, infertility and behavioural issues. These chemicals can live on in our bodies and be passed on from generation to generation.
Changing habits can be difficult. If you start by creating only one or two new habits this summer, you will make a big difference.
• Erich Hetzel is a local environmentalist and member of Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce
• Katie Berry is the past Executive Director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful and Beyond Plastic champion
• Beyond Plastic Bermuda is a joint campaign by Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, Keep Bermuda Beautiful and environmental advocates to educate and help our island move away from plastic. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com