~by Amanda Smith
Working with Kristen Wixted and Heather Kelly on the cover reveal of FRIENDS & ANEMONES: Ocean Poems for Children, one theme came up time and time again: The conservation and restoration of the ocean, and ways in which we can contribute.
I have always been a big proponent of buying sustainable products and reducing single-use plastics in our household. While doing research for my poems, I learned more than I wanted to know about islands of floating plastic in the ocean, and how our wasteful living impacts the fantastical animals who call the ocean home.
The biggest problem by far, is single-use plastics. I have found a few wonderful products that we use in our everyday lives, and that help us cut back on single use plastics in our house.
We have been using Planet Box lunchboxes for the last nine years. These boxes are super durable and all the sections make for creative lunch options without having to use multiple baggies. They are dishwasher safe, easy for little hands to open and close by themselves, and come with insulated pouches and smaller canisters for dips or extras. At first glance the price might seem a bit high, but I promise you these are the last lunchboxes you will ever buy. We prefer the Shuttle lunchbox as it grew the best with our kids, meeting their middle and high-school lunch needs. For myself, I love the Rover, pictured here, as I’m not typically a sandwich person.
At home, I use glass bowls, such as these by Pyrex, for leftover storage. Even though the lids are plastic, they are durable, lasting for many years, and recyclable once they perish. However, sometimes one needs a wrap to cover that half a watermelon or avocado. I love beeswax wraps for this purpose. Investing in different sizes is definitely a good idea.
In my quest to limit plastic containers entering our home, I have switched to TruEarth laundry detergent strips. They are super easy, no mess, environmentally friendly, and they work! Simply pop one strip in your washing machine’s detergent dispenser and there you go. The strips are packaged in a fully recyclable paper envelope.
My main reason for resisting daily-wear contact lenses is the thought of innumerable tiny plastic containers, foil lids and lenses in landfills. This year during my optometrist visit, I noticed a contact lens recycling box in the office. Did you know Bausch and Lomb has a recycling program where every single item of your contact lens-use, from foil to lens can be recycled. Find out more here or ask your optometrist about it.
Years ago, we used to buy small plastic baggies for cleaning the litter box. It dumbfounded me that we would put perfectly biodegradable substances in a sealed, non-degradable bag. Our solution was to use small paper lunch bags. They work super if you close them well. We are not a dog household, so I don’t know it paper bags would work for dog needs, but I would encourage you to give it a try.
No matter how well intentioned we are, single use plastics will still find their way into our homes. What to do with film plastic such as bread bags, cereal bags, enormous plastic bags that cover furniture purchases, bubble wrap-envelopes used by delivery giants, cling wrap over fruit, shrink wrap around vegetables? Did you know you could recycle these along with grocery bags at most grocery stores? Just shake out the crumbs. As long as the plastic is clean, it can be recycled. Trex use these materials in manufacturing their composite wood decking. Learn more here about the Trex plastic recycling program and nationwide recycling partners, hang a large bag for collecting the single use plastics that enter your home, and start making a difference!
Plastic pollution and the way it impacts ocean life is not an easy fix. But by making a series of small changes in our purchases and behavior, we can collectively make a huge difference to the protection and rehabilitation of the ocean.
Oh, one more way you can directly be involved in protecting the ocean is to support the Rozalia project. Until the end of December all proceeds from the Writers’ Loft Anthology, FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: Ocean Poems for Children will also be donated to the Rozalia project
I am a member of The Writers' Loft. However, I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this blog, nor do I get any compensation from them. All opinions in this piece are my own, and based on personal experience.