Easy Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Usage
The use of plastic has become a part of nearly every aspect of our lives. Plastic is used to wrap and package almost everything we buy. We can wrap leftovers in plastic wrap, drink beverages from plastic cups, and eat from plastic plates with plastic cutlery. We might wear shoes made of plastic products or at least tie them with plastic shoelaces. Even the computer I am writing this article on is made with plastic components.
There is no doubt that plastic in all its forms is handy stuff. While plastic has many valuable uses, single-use plastic makes up half of all the 380 million tonnes of plastic produced every year. Plastic is now a part of everything humans do, and it’s having severe environmental, social, economic, and health consequences.
In this article, we’ll discuss why you should consider cutting back on the amount of plastic you use in your RV, whether you’re on the road or at the campsite.
Why are plastics bad?
Even though they are widely used everywhere on the planet, plastics are astoundingly bad for the environment. If there is a single thing we could do to ensure the ability of our species (and others) to survive on this planet, it is cutting back on our use of plastics. Let’s have a look at some of the ways plastics are bad for the environment.
- Non-renewable resources are used in the manufacturing of plastics. The production of petroleum-based plastics uses 200,000 barrels of oil every single day. That’s an awful lot of petroleum.
- Energy use: Plastic is one of the least energy-efficient materials to produce, using 22 kilowatt hours to produce 1 kilogram of plastic. Just for comparison, that’s around four times the amount of energy used to produce a kilogram of steel.
- Greenhouse gases: In 2022, the manufacturing and incineration of plastic products will create nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gases.
- Health concerns: Plastic food and beverage containers leach toxic chemicals into food and beverages, leading to a variety of known health issues. A 2011 study found that plastic food and beverages containers and wraps leach and outgas toxic and/or carcinogenic chemicals. Contrary to popular belief, BHP products are also hazardous to our health. The plastic materials tested in the study were both BHP and BHP-free products. Both were found to have adverse health effects on humans. To read more on this study, click here.
- Pollution: Every year, the manufacturing of plastics creates enormous amounts of pollution. In addition, plastics now find their way into every conceivable waterway in the world. Every year, 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans.
- Landfills are filling with plastic: Landfills now contain more discarded plastic than any other type of trash. This should come as no surprise, as nearly everything we discard now has plastic in it. More than 27 million tons of plastic winds up in US landfills every year.
Why recycling plastic waste isn’t working
It’s been estimated that just 5 to 15% of discarded plastic gets recycled. Many consumers believe that the plastic they use can be recycled and be made into new plastic goods and containers.
Sometimes this is true, but most of the 400 million tonnes of plastic waste that is produced around the world is non-recyclable. Recycling some types of plastics is helpful, but it isn’t the answer for a growing crisis; we are still disposing millions of tonnes of single-use and other plastics. The only answer that makes sense is dramatically reducing plastic use.
How To Reduce Plastic Use In Your RV
Reducing plastic waste in your RV will help to solve the world’s current plastic crisis. Not only that, but you’ll reap the money-saving benefits of having less stuff to throw out.
1. BYOB to the grocery store
Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, or ask for a cardboard box to carry your groceries to the car. Keep them in the front of the RV so when you go shopping you’ll remember to bring them along.
2. Replace plastic wrap and food storage bags with reusable beeswax wrap
Plastic wrap has nothing on beeswax wrap, especially when it comes to convenience, ease of use, and environmental sustanability. Beeswax wrap is reusable, washable, and can easily be molded to fit over any dish, bowl, or pan.
3. Eliminate or reduce the use of plastic utensils
Stop using plastic forks, knives, and spoons. However, if for some reason you just can’t quit your plastic cutlery, you can at least reuse it. Plastic eating utensils can actually be washed and can be easily reused many times. Both wooden and bamboo alternatives to plastic utensils are available on Amazon.com. You can also use wooden eating utensils to help get your campfire started. However, it’s always best to simply wash the regular metal cutlery you already have.
4. Use alternatives to plastic plates and dishes
In addition to winding up as plastic waste, plastic tableware (including melamine dishes) can leach toxic chemicals into food under certain conditions. Corelle dinnerware, porcelain, and stoneware are safe alternatives that can travel very well in any RV. The trick is to protect your dishes by transporting them in a plate organizer like the Camco Stack-A-Plate.
5. Avoid plastic packaging whenever possible
For example, pasta is often available in cardboard boxes alongside pasta in plastic packages. Even laundry detergent and household cleaners are now available in strips that come in a plastic-free, cardboard envelope instead of plastic packaging.
When buying produce, avoid prepackaged fruits and vegetables. Bring along some reusable produce bags instead of using the plastic bags that stores provide. Some products, like bananas, don’t really need a plastic bag anyway.
6. Replace K-Cup coffee pods with a single reusable K-Cup
If you use a Keurig coffee maker to brew your morning elixir, you can reduce a lot of plastic waste just by using a single reusable K-Cup instead of many disposable ones.
7. Replace bulky plastic storage bins with camping dry storage bags or metal bins
The plastic storage bins that are frequently used to store dry goods like pet food can become brittle over time and will need to be thrown out. Using dry storage bags designed for camping will keep dry goods fresh while taking up less space. Durable metal bins are also preferable to plastic, since metal is easier to recycle than plastic.
8. Buy in bulk where possible
Buying items in larger quantities or from the bulk section of the store means dealing with less plastic packaging. Avoid buying single-use sizes of anything that comes in a plastic container.
9. Use biodegradable trash bags
Biodegradable trash bags are made with a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process than their non-biodegradable counterparts and are designed to break down quickly. Using biodegradable trashbags can help reduce the amount of plastic we add to landfills.
10. Avoid single-use plastic products
Just avoiding single-use plastic products can have a huge impact on the amount of plastic you use.
Plastic use has quadrupled in the last 30 years, leading to a growing environmental crisis around the world. The use of plastic is so pervasive throughout the world that eliminating it from our lives completely is probably unrealistic. However, each of us can make a difference by reducing our use of plastic.
Collectively, we can help to avert a rapidly evolving environmental crisis. Think about this: The average person throws away 220 lbs of plastic per year. We can each easily cut that amount in half just by eliminating single-use plastic products.
Seeking environmentally sustainable alternatives to plastic products will also go a long way to reducing the amount of plastic we use. If each of 10,000 consumers do a small part to cut their plastic use by half, we can reduce plastic waste by 1,100,000 lbs. That’s a lot of plastic waste.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.
Lynne lives, travels and works full time in the R-Pod 180 with 3 pointers and 1 small but vital corgi mix named Alice. Lynne began full time RVing as an experiment in 2019, but she quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full time RV living. Lynne is a professional dog trainer, offering mobile and online dog training services through her website at www.mydoggeek.com. You can read about her travel adventures on her blog at: https://rpodadventure.wordpress.com/