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Meera Shamma 25 Apr 2018

A Few Simple Yet Effective Ways To Reduce Your Individual Output Of Plastic Waste In Lebanon

The world’s plastic crisis is very, very real. Human beings have created 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950, and now, if it’s not stored away in unsustainable landfills, most of it is turning up in our oceans and our seas.

Just last year we saw Beirut’s shoreline completely covered in trash after it was hit by a small storm, and it was only then that the Lebanese population, despite our very own ominous trash crisis, seemed to become aware of the severity of the problem at hand. But just when we started to care, we stopped, because out of sight, out of mind, right? The amount of plastic waste that has accumulated around the world and over the years is enough to cover the city of Manhattan in a 2-mile-deep blanket of one of the world’s most impossible substances to break down.

You might think that Lebanon is such a small country that it can’t be contributing in any real way to the world’s major plastic crisis, but that’s not a productive way of thinking about it at all. We live in a very small country, yes, but one that is constantly embattled with dealing with our own menacing issues with trash. If we work together to try to change as a community, we can help change the ways in which we contribute to the plastic crisis that has ailed the entire world. You can and should participate in trying to help alleviate the world from this dire situation, and here are some simple ways that you can do so, effectively, and on an individual level.

1. Sign up for local recycling projects, like LiveLoveRecycle, and have them collect your plastic waste weekly

It’s free. It’s simple. You need nothing but your phone. There’s no excuse not to. Just download the LiveLoveRecycle app and do something good for the environment – you can start today!

2. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store

You can buy cheap, reusable bags at any one dollar store in Beirut, and if you start making a habit of bringing them with you every time you go grocery shopping, just think of how many plastic bags you won’t be taking home.

3. Start using reusable water bottles

The bottle pictured here was bought from Glowbal Outlet Stores for less than $10

You can buy a reusable water bottle from countless shops around the city. Some of them are fancy enough to keep your water cold throughout the day, and others are pretty enough to keep your eyes pleased every time you take a sip. Instead of buying a single-use water bottle every time you’re thirsty and then throwing it away, why not buy one that’ll stay with you for as long as you’ll have it? You can get one from any Starbucks around the country, little gift shops in malls and around the city, and Glowbal Outlet Stores often carries some of the highest quality ones available at very, very cheap prices.

4. When ordering delivery, ask for them not to send plastic cutlery and to use as few plastic bags as possible

You’re ordering food to your house, right? You have everything you need to enjoy your meal right at home. Something about restaurants in Lebanon makes them go over-the-top with their plastic packaging, and it’s such a shame when you realize how much of it goes right into the trash. Next time you order food to the house, ask them to send as little plastic as possible, and skip the plastic cutlery.

5. Stop using plastic straws

“The very first plastic straw you used is still somewhere here on Earth.” Just let that sink in. Although you might enjoy sipping your drinks through a straw, it’s just not worth it when you think of how detrimental that one drink is to the environment. Great initiatives taken by Lebanese establishments like The Grand Factory are helping encourage the public to see beyond that quick fix of a sip through a straw. If you really can’t have it any other way, then you can opt for more environmentally friendly options, like metal straws or reusable plastic straws that can be washed and used over and over again, instead of those that are thrown away after every drink.

6. Buy things in bulk

By default, if you buy things in bigger quantities, then you’ll be taking in less plastic. You can shop somewhere like Wesley’s Wholesale or Carrefour for more bang for your buck and less plastic for your buck, too.

7. Shop at eco-friendly stores

Like this one. By shopping local, you’ll not only be promoting local businesses, but you’ll be buying organic, eco-friendly products that are not wasteful when it comes to their packaging.

8. Boycott products that contain micro beads

Photo courtesy of The Science Explorer

Microbeads are one of the most directly harmful types of plastic for the environment. These minuscule pieces of plastic that are usually found in body care products like body washes, facial soaps, toothpastes, and make up, are directly washed down into your sink/shower, and end up going straight into the sea/ocean. Once they’re floating away in the big blue, they are almost always eaten by sea creatures who’s usual diets include small organisms as small as microbeads, causing detrimental health problems for sea creatures and the humans who eat them. If you see that a product you’re interested in buying has microbeads in it, you really should opt for something that doesn’t have them instead – for everyone’s sake.

9. Reuse, reuse, reuse

As much as you can. If you just teach yourself to be more conscious of how much you actually throw away, and how many of those things are single-use products, you can train yourself to buy more sustainable products that offer you more than just that one time. Most of the plastic you throw away can be reused – most of it is not dirty or ripped, it’s just that you’ve been trained to only use it once and throw it out. Try to change the way you think about single-use plastic products, and all the rest of these points will hopefully fall into place.