How can I help prevent marine pollution

Ten simple tips to avoid disposable packaging and plastic in everyday life

It is now undeniable that our plastic consumption has a significant impact on the environment. Plastic is simply ubiquitous in our lives. Plastic is of particular concern as a single-use product: when used as packaging, we encounter plastic in large numbers every day. Often without our being aware of it. It is not that difficult to reduce your own plastic consumption.

Here are our tips on how to easily save plastic or even avoid plastic completely.

1. Banish superfluous single-use products from everyday life

Plastic plates and cutlery, drinking straws and stirring sticks: They are only used for a few minutes and then end up in the trash. Does it really have to be? Wouldn't it make more sense if we did a little more washing up after the picnic or the party, thereby protecting the environment and, by the way, our wallet?
Alternative: Use reusable tableware or only offer drinks and snacks that do without the superfluous plastic. If you are too lazy to wash up after the party, you can ask the drinks supplier for glasses. Many offer the delivery of glasses and even the rinsing afterwards as a service.

2. "Unpackaged" stores

Supermarkets and discount stores: As a customer, you often hardly have a chance to buy unpackaged food here. Often the product is wrapped in a lot of plastic to better showcase it.

Alternative: If possible, support "unpackaged" stores. These shops already exist in many larger cities - containers you bring with you are simply refilled here. There are also so-called zero-waste shops on the Internet that only send their goods in boxes that have already been used. Otherwise, the weekly market and shops with fresh produce counters can be an alternative to avoid plastic.

3. Reusable carrier bags

Disposable carrier bags: Whether made of plastic or paper - the ecological balance of disposable carrier bags is miserable. Fortunately, plastic and paper bags are now much less available at supermarket checkouts in Germany or only at an additional cost.

Alternative: Reusable carrier bags are often offered in stores. It is best to bring your own rucksack or shopping bag from home when you go shopping.

4. Buy fruits and vegetables in bulk

Fruit and vegetables in plastic wrap: The fruit is quickly filled into the small, transparent plastic bag because you don't want to put your shopping loosely on the belt. Even organic fruit is often shrink-wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. You can skid when shopping in an environmentally conscious way.

Alternative: Most of the time, the plastic around it is completely superfluous, because fruits and vegetables often have their own protective cover or just have to be washed off well. Bring your own reusable bags for mushrooms, cherries, lettuce and the like or at least use plastic bags that have already accumulated at home several times.

And what about bio-plastics? Unfortunately, bio-plastics are not the solution. Recycling is much more recommended. With recycling, at least the energy that was used to manufacture the plastic is retained.First of all, be careful with the term "bio-plastic": Bio-plastics can be plastics made from renewable raw materials such as corn starch - or they can be biodegradable. A bag made from renewable raw materials does not necessarily have to be biodegradable. Conversely, a degradable bag is far from being sustainably produced. You can find out more about this on the WWF blog.

Disposable beverage bottles and cans: Quickly taken away when shopping or at a snack to quench your thirst, but they also quickly create a garbage problem.

Alternative: Basically, reusable bottles are generally more environmentally friendly than the one-way version. But the matter is complicated: Reusable glass bottles are only more environmentally friendly than plastic bottles if they do not have long transport routes behind them. It is best to always have your own reusable bottle with the tried and tested tap water with you.

6. "To stay" instead of "To go"

Coffee and takeaway: Who does not know that? Get a cup of coffee on the go or take your food with you instead of eating on site.

Alternative: Almost all shops accept reusable cups or cans that you have brought with you. In many cafés, the commitment to the environment is even rewarded and the coffee in the reusable cup costs less. Or just take your time and drink the coffee in peace in the café - this is the even nicer way of avoiding plastic.

7. Pay attention to ingredients in cosmetics

Liquid soap, scrubs, shower gel or mascara: Microplastics are hidden in many of these products - under various names. The small particles can hide behind names such as polyethylene (PE) or polyquaternium (PQ). Liquid synthetic polymers, i.e. substances that are difficult to break down in the environment, can also be hidden in cosmetics.

Alternative: Certified natural cosmetics do not contain any petroleum-based ingredients. Also, solid soap can be a good alternative for personal hygiene. Shampoo and hair treatment are also available in soap form. Coffee grounds, sugar or sea salt can be used for peeling. And most importantly: pay attention to the ingredients when shopping for cosmetics and read the small print. (More information in the BUND purchasing guide)

Synthetic clothing: Often, sports and outdoor clothing are made of synthetic materials, from which small plastic particles, so-called microplastics, are released every time you wash them. These cannot be completely filtered out in the sewage treatment plant and thus get into our waters. Our wardrobes are always filled with new (often not very high-quality) clothes because you don't want to see the old ones anymore.

Alternative: There are also clothes swapping parties with friends without any garbage, but with a lot of fun - this gives older items of clothing a second life and also avoids plastic. Second-hand shops and higher-quality products also encourage the reuse of clothing. And if you don't want to keep your clothes, donating them to local charities is your best bet.

Waste incineration generates greenhouse gases: If all of the garbage ends up in the same trash can, it is burned as residual waste and generates greenhouse gases. Recycling can also be energy-intensive, but it is still better because it uses raw materials such as plastic and metal multiple times.

Alternative: Even if it is sometimes tedious in everyday life: Consistent waste separation makes perfect sense. Anyone who recycles glass and paper and turns organic waste into compost will hardly find any garbage in their residual waste bin.

Plastic waste in the sea: On the beach, at the lake, on the riverside - plastic waste in nature is a sad sight and yet ubiquitous. In the end, a lot of our rubbish ends up in the stomachs of fish, whales and sea birds.

Alternative: Roll up your sleeves and collect trash! Every piece of garbage that is collected can no longer clog an animal's stomach. During campaign days like the Coastal Cleanup Day, which takes place every year in mid-September, you also get to know nice people. Please inquire about the protective regulations (e.g. wear gloves).

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