With the 25-fil tariff on single-use plastic bags now in full effect across Dubai, many shoppers are suddenly more conscious of their everyday choices. Where exactly will my toothbrush end up? Is it time to do away with tampons and pads? And just how wasteful is my morning coffee routine? But don’t let such questions overwhelm you – the more you do, the better, but don’t try to change too much too quickly. The goal here is progress, not perfection. Here, we share 10 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste so that you can join the millions of people participating in the Plastic Free July global movement circa now.
Up to one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year around the world, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, making reusable grocery bags a no-brainer – especially with the new tariff in place. Keep a set of cloth bags in your car or by your front door so that you remember to bring them to the store with you.
Whether you’re ordering a drink at a restaurant or making yourself a cold beverage at home, single-use plastic straws are simply unnecessary. Looking to swap for a more sustainable alternative? Reusable straws are now available in stainless steel, silicone, and even glass to accommodate thicker beverages like smoothies or boba tea.
Reduce your consumption of single-use plastic water bottles by joining the Dubai Can movement, accessing drinking water at the many water stations installed across Dubai – Kite Beach, Zabeel Park, and Madinat Jumeirah included. Besides, glass and stainless steel water bottles are healthier options than plastic.
Considering there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, the time to make your own snacks is now, especially as anything homemade will be healthier than their pre-packaged counterparts. A few easy-to-make snacks: applesauce, hummus, trail mix, granola bars, protein balls, and fruit smoothie popsicles.
Both nylon mesh and cloth bags are great for both produce shopping and storage, replacing single-use plastic bags. Yes, the latter (those thin and colourless bags dotted across the fruit and vegetable sections of supermarkets) are just as problematic – difficult to recycle, unlikely to be reused, and a huge contributor to litter.
Chewing gum is an environmental nightmare as it doesn’t decompose, so consider giving it up entirely. Most are made from inorganic polyisobutylene or polyvinyl acetate rubber bases, both of which are resistant to biological breakdown processes. Furthermore, gum can clog the digestive systems of birds, fish, and other small animals that may mistake it for food.
Not only are commercially made cleaning products housed in plastic containers, but they’re also riddled with chemicals. We suggest you go back to basics, making a DIY all-purpose cleaner that you can whip up in no time. All you’ll need is one part white vinegar, one part water, the rind of lemon, and some rosemary sprigs. Simply combine, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and let infuse for a week before using.
With the rise of waterless beauty, shower essentials like soap, shampoo, and conditioner are now available in solid bar form. They’re eco-friendly, devoid of plastic packaging, and a breeze to travel with (goodbye, spillage). Bonus: bars are cost-effective, typically lasting much longer than a bottle of liquid shampoo or conditioner.
Balloons may be considered a staple for special occasions, but they cannot be recycled and are surprisingly hazardous for wildlife. They can resemble jellyfish if they end up in the water – and therefore mistaken for food – thereby clogging the digestive tracts of some marine animals. Instead, opt for eco-friendly party supplies such as bamboo plates and biodegradable paper confetti.
Single-use menstrual products wreak havoc on marine environments. The solution? A reusable menstrual cup that, with proper care, can last up to six years. Other options include period pants (which can be put in the washing machine after use) and reusable tampon applicators by brands like Dame and Thinx.