Broader society appears to be finally recognising that planet Earth is in a bad environmental state, with things expected to get worse unless we dramatically change our lifestyles. 

Many people are now realising that they have to do their part if we are to avert a climate disaster.

Here is a list of 10 small changes you can introduce to your lifestyle to do your part to take care of our island and the planet. 

1. Choose your tea wisely 

Loose leaf tea is your best choice to reducing your ecological footprint. Photo: AFPLoose leaf tea is your best choice to reducing your ecological footprint. Photo: AFP

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, as well as being one of the most popular hot drinks in Malta. However, most tea bags and all foil wrappers cannot be recycled or composted. 

Out of the top five UK tea brands, only one is actually plastic free. This is because most tea brands use a sealing plastic, polypropylene, to keep teabags from coming apart.

Twinings, PG Tips, Yorkshire and Tetley are the top four brands of tea and their teabags all contain plastic. Pukka comes at number five and, according to their website, their teabags do not contain any form of plastic. Instead, they “use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process”, which is "a more costly and complex process", but also better for the environment.

An even better option is to use loose-leaf tea. And if it's locally sourced, all the better! 

2. Brush up on your toothbrushes 

According to the National Geographic, nearly every single toothbrush made since the 1930s, when the first plastic toothbrushes came out, is still out there in the world, living on as a piece of indestructible trash.

Swapping to a bamboo, wooden or recycled plastic toothbrush helps the environment by having one less toothbrush in a landfill or polluting the sea. Plus, they can all be recycled or composted once they are not usable as toothbrushes anymore. 

3. Know your recycling codes 

Unfortunately, just because something is plastic it does not mean it can be recycled.

All plastic items have a numbered code from one to seven. The code is based on what the item is, and it helps understand if something can be recycled or not. 

Number one and two items are the easiest to recycle. Number three and six items cannot be recycled, ever. Whereas number four, five and seven cannot always be recycled. 

4. Wash your food containers 

Photo: AFPPhoto: AFP

Greasy paper or cardboard (a pizza box, for example) cannot be recycled. They can however be added to organic waste.

An empty packet of potato chips, plastic food wrap, the packaging that comes with supermarket-bought meat, takeaway containers and other such packaging. cannot be recycled.

Jars and tins can be recycled, but only if washed until completely clean. 

5. Leave the beach nice and clean

Ramla beachRamla beach

Going to the beach and having a swim in the sea is part of life in Malta.

Taking a plastic or trash bag when having a fun day in the sun is a great way to ensure that no trash gets left behind and ends up polluting the water. 

Pick up any waste you find on the beach while you are there. Remember, anything left on the beach will most likely end in the water and be eaten by sea life, which ultimately means we will end up eating it too. 

Cigarette butts are one of the worst environmental problems when it comes to water pollution. According to Global News, they pollute seas and oceans more than things like plastic straws, which have for the most part been banned.

Making sure not to leave any behind when enjoying the beach can be crucial for our sea. 

6. Go green with your sanitary products 

Reusable sanitary pads can save a lot of waste - and save you money. Photo: AFPReusable sanitary pads can save a lot of waste - and save you money. Photo: AFP

It’s no secret that tampons and pads are not eco-friendly. According to USA Today, “the average woman has an estimated 500 menstrual cycles in her lifetime”. Each cycle sees about 20 tampons/10 pads, which cannot be recycled. 

Swapping these products with either cloth pads, menstrual underwear or a menstrual cup is not only the eco-friendliest choice, but it can also save women a lot of money. 

7. The bathroom: a plastic nightmare

Shower gels, shampoos and other soap containers all add up. Photo: AFPShower gels, shampoos and other soap containers all add up. Photo: AFP

We have talked about toothbrushes and female hygiene, now it’s time to tackle the biggest bulk of plastic in the bathroom: soap. Hand soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc. can all be found in most bathrooms and they are a big part of people’s plastic waste. 

Swapping to bar soap or refilling the already-owned empty bottles can help reduce or fully eliminate one piece of plastic waste. 

8. Know which items will end up in landfills 

Broken glass can be recycled. Other things cannot. Photo: AFPBroken glass can be recycled. Other things cannot. Photo: AFP

Although many things are recyclable, and it’s great to recycle as much as possible, there are some items that cannot be thrown in that bin. 

Things such as receipts, dark plastic, some plastic bottle caps, some plastic grocery bags, Styrofoam, shredded paper and some coloured paper cannot actually be recycled. 

Also, broken glass can be recycled, but be careful of how you dispose of it as you don’t want to hurt anyone in the process. 

9. Leave your car at home

Photo: Chris Sant FournierPhoto: Chris Sant Fournier

It’s no secret that there are an absurd number of cars on Maltese roads. According to the National Statistics Office, in 2018 there were 782 vehicles per 1000 residents. 

Taking the bus or even carpooling when possible can make a huge change on Malta’s air pollution, as well as helping reduce traffic. 

10. Is takeaway coffee really worth destroying the planet?

Unlike most paper items, paper cups cannot be recycled, due to a thin layer of plastic they have on the inside. 

Swapping for a reusable cup (and a reusable bottle for your water) will ensure less of these cups end up in landfills and in the sea. 

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