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Reduce, reuse, refuse: tips to cut down plastic use in your kitchen

Every year, we dump 10m tons of plastic into the ocean, and solving the problem will require regulatory action. But there are ways consumers can help
Cutting boards, non-stick pans, mixing bowls, even tea bags: in the kitchen, plastics can be hidden in plain sight.
It’s something that Jessica Brinkworth, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, realized once she began looking for ways to cut down on plastic use in her own kitchen after her workplace started doing the same. Although much of her lab’s waste was unavoidable – plastics are key for the sterile medical research they conduct – it still made her uncomfortable. That discomfort was only magnified in her own home, where she knew plastics were “largely a matter of convenience”.
Large macroplastics are a problem worldwide because we dump them on the shores of other nations,” she says, where things like plastic bottles block access to food for coastal nations and kill about a million people a year due to flooding, landslides and other environmental disasters. Much smaller plastics, like micro and nanoplastics, which are tinier than a grain of rice, “pose a whole other level of problem. Many types of plastic are endocrine disruptors,” meaning they disrupt the excretion and use of insulin, which can lead to obesity and reproductive health disorders.
Every year, we dump 10m tons of plastic into the ocean, killing a million marine animals annually. That plastic can work its way into our bodies from both the food we eat (most of our seafood contains microplastics) to how we cook in the kitchen.
“Plastic pollution is one of the most visible signs of the environmental crisis we’re facing with microplastics discovered on the highest mountains as well as in the depths of the oceans,” said Paula Chin, a senior policy adviser on consumption at the World Wildlife Fund. “They’ve also been found in our bodies with estimates suggesting we’re consuming a credit card’s worth of plastic each week.”
Brinkworth says solving our plastics problem will require massive regulatory action and coordination by federal and world governments, but that there are important ways consumers can make a difference.
“There’s so much that we’re producing in our kitchens that’s environmentally and publicly hazardous. But the reason why it’s in our kitchens is because that’s been made available to us,” she says. “One of the great acts of the plastics and petroleum industry has been to convince us that it’s a personal responsibility.”
That said, Brinworth notes that the climate crisis is happening now – and many people won’t survive waiting for innovative plastics recycling solutions to save the day. She encourages people interested in combating plastic pollution to reduce, reuse and recycle – but most importantly to refuse, when they are able. “Consumers can take responsibility probably in the most effective way by trying to affect government change.”



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23 more agrees trigger contact with the recipient

  • George Kariuki

    14 w

    These statistics underline the dire need for immediate action.

    1
    • winnie nguru

      14 w

      Very insightful. Each of us should commit to end the plastics menace. We all have them in our homes and they are causing more harm than good

      5
      • Rotich Kim

        14 w

        Good idea but we need to have our own way to ensure Bett solutions

        5
        • Joseph Githinji

          14 w

          Great call to action, always happy to note that we all can make change, with such steps we all can fight the great enemy of climate change effects.

          2
          • walter lungayi

            14 w

            It's important for individuals to take steps to reduce plastic use in their kitchens and daily lives. The impact of plastic pollution on the environment and human health is significant, and everyone can make a difference by implementing the principles of reduce, reuse, and refuse.

            2
            • Joseph Githinji

              14 w

              @walter_lungayi this is a principle that all must embrace for us to diminish the use of plastics and their effects to the environment.

              1
            • Elizabeth Gathigia

              14 w

              I fully support this idea, and it can save our planet, change begins with me and you

              4
              • johnte ndeto

                14 w

                Plastics can be a serious mess to our climate and by following the 3 Rs can really help

                5
                • Joseph Githinji

                  14 w

                  @johnte_ndeto plastics are a major menace and we must all stand tall to stop its effects to our climate.

                  2
                • Gorffly mokua

                  14 w

                  As consumers, we should always make environmental conscious choices about how we consume and dispose of plastic, and this way we can all contribute towards creating a more sustainable future.

                  5
                  • Joseph Githinji

                    14 w

                    @gorffly_mokua this is true, we all have a great role to play in stopping the use of plastics.

                    2
                  • Munene Mugambi

                    14 w

                    Try the approach of making small steps like cutting off fast food plastic packaging and move on to single use water bottles and you'll start seeing a difference in a while.

                    4
                    • Joseph Githinji

                      14 w

                      @munene_mugambi a great call of action.

                      2
                    • Princess

                      14 w

                      Small changes like this can make a big difference for the environment!

                      12
                      • Gorffly mokua

                        14 w

                        @princess_nel_268 Sure! Every small changes in our daily habits can make the world better.

                        3
                      • CHRIS NGATIA

                        14 w

                        This is quite a great idea ... It all starts from us

                        12
                        • Gorffly mokua

                          14 w

                          @chris_ngatia Absolutely right!

                          2
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