Plastic is one of the greatest threats to our environment. Even with significant strides made by many to reduce plastic consumption, the problem is without a doubt getting worse. Plastic use has tripled since the 1990s. Most plastic ends up in landfills and in our environment including our waterways.
Plastics get the most attention for the damage they wreak on sea life in our oceans. Many beach communities have banned plastic straws and shopping bags.
Not only does plastic affect our environment, but it also affects human health. According to the CDC, 92% of people tested had detectable levels of BPA and other plastic chemicals in their bodies. Most disturbing of all is that this study included newborn babies.
Why are plastics so dangerous?
Plastics do not biodegrade. They slowly break down into smaller pieces called microplastics. They contaminate our soil and water. They end up in animal tissues and eventually enter the human food chain. It takes thousands of years for plastic bags and styrofoam containers to decompose.
Read More: More details on the plastic epidemic that is ruining our oceans.
What can you do to reduce plastic use?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the damage being done by plastics to our environment and human health, but there are steps you can take to help.
- Use reusable grocery bags – if you forget them, ask for paper bags
- Use reusable produce bags
- If you order your groceries, insist they never use a plastic grocery or produce bags
- Buy boxes not bottles
- Refuse straws at restaurants
- Bring reusable water bottles everywhere you go
- Do not allow restaurants to give your children styrofoam cups with lids – bring water bottles or reusable cups
- Buy in bulk and pack in reusable containers
- Skip the leftovers or bring reusable containers with you to take home leftovers
- Do not buy handsoap in small plastic bottles – buy glass or ceramic containers and refill
- Do not chew gum, it is made of synthetic rubber, aka plastic
- Make your own cleaning products
- Use matches not plastic lighters
- Pack lunches in reusable containers with lots of fruits and veggies that do not require containers
- Use beeswax wrap
Use Beeswax Wrap
Yes, you heard correctly – use beeswax wrap! Beeswax wrap is a product that can be used in the place of plastic wrap. Beeswax wrap also reduces the need for the plastic lids that accompany glass storage bowls.
Beeswax wrap is made out of completely natural products – jojoba oil, tree resin, organic cotton, and of course – beeswax!
Not only can you feel good about what beeswax wrap is made out of, but you can reuse beeswax wrap for an entire year. Your body heat activates the beeswax wrap to make it cling to whatever is being covered. Simply wash beeswax wrap with cool water and soap between uses. Once the stickiness of your beeswax wrap is lost, no need to fill up a landfill with the product. Beeswax wrap is completely compostable.
Some users say that beeswax wrap is not sticky enough to keep something like a sandwich wrapped, while others say it works perfectly for this purpose. If you are finding that beeswax wrap is not pliable enough for your liking, you could always tie a string around food that you want to keep wrapped with beeswax wrap.
Where do I find beeswax wrap?
A simple online search for beeswax wrap will yield many results from Amazon to Etsy and everything in between. Some retail shops such as Savannah Bee Company, with 14 retail locations across the United States, offer beeswax wrap in their stores and online.
Can I make my own beeswax wrap?
Yes, you can! There are many online tutorial videos on how to make beeswax wrap, but we are just going to highlight a couple here.
Here Good Housekeeping outlines step by step instructions on how to make DIY Beeswax Wrap. The ingredient list is as follows:
- Cosmetic-grade beeswax pellets
- 100% cotton fabric
- Scissors or pinking shears
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Hanger (optional)
- Binder clips or clothespins (optional)
- Ruler (optional)
Many of the recipes you will find on the internet use expensive jojoba oil or powdered pine resin to make beeswax wrap. However, the research done by Good Housekeeping found that those ingredients were not necessary as beeswax wrap with those products performed similarly to this recipe without them.
Read More: If you travel on a regular basis, you need to read these amazing zero waste travel tips.
There is also an interesting parchment paper and an iron method that is worthy of trying. Ingredients for this method are as follows:
- cotton material
- pinking shears (find these here)
- parchment paper (large roll, 15″ wide, works best) (find it here)
- beeswax beads or pellets, find them online here or here – (I found very fine white beeswax beads in the bulk section at my local health food store. Yellow beads will discolor light fabrics, but are more unrefined and probably healthier to use for this project. You can also use grated beeswax with great results.)
- iron (find one here if you don’t have one)
- large cutting board (or other flat surface covered with newspaper or drop cloth) (find one here)
What else can I do to lower my consumption of single use plastic?
One of the most important things you can do other than taking these steps yourself is to encourage others to do the same. You also need to ensure that your children understand the lengths you are taking to avoid plastics so that they understand the damage plastic can do. Here are some ideas of what you can do with your children and their friends so they can see first hand the effects of plastic and litter on our environment.
- Organize a clean up day at a local beach, lake, or river.
- Get your child’s school to participate in the TREX Plastic Film Recycling Challenge.
- Skip the craft store and reuse items for crafts. Make sure to explain why!
- Read books about the Earth.
- Make a compost bottle so that kids can see the process of compostable material breaking down in the soil and explain why plastic does not break down.
- Do a water pollution experiment.
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Photo Credits: Pixabay.com, beeswrap.com, and savannahbeecompany.com