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Breaking up with Plastic

By Casey Dienel
Apr 29, 2019

Change starts with setting intentions and taking the small, everyday steps to honor them. Our family at Habitas is committed to making sure we leave any community we call home better than we found it. It’s why our founder Eduardo Castillo donates all of the proceeds from each Mardeleva concert to his plastic-free initiatives in Tulum. It’s the driving force behind our outreach through Rise and the motivator for our sustainability efforts. This year, for Earth Day, we’re working as a team on way to address waste management at our homes in Tulum, NYC, Venice Beach and more by saying bye-bye to plastic for good.  

Plastic is one of the largest contributors to water pollution and the greatest challenge facing waste management efforts. Each year, it’s estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics end up in our oceans. Much of what we consume ends up floating in the sea in great vortexes, making it hard to clean up without damaging wildlife. What debris doesn’t sink ends up on our shores, and much of it degrades into smaller pieces called microplastic. These pieces are so tiny, some no bigger than a grain of sand, that animals such as turtles, whales, and seabirds confuse them with food and ingest them The result is often life-threatening for them. In addition to damaging our ocean’s ecosystem, these plastics leach harmful BPAs, Phalates and other chemicals into our seafood and drinking water supply. 

Most recently, in Venice Beach, our members met at the Waterfront Cafe for a group meditation on the beach followed by a cooperative beach cleanup. Hala Malak led our panel in NY which featured founder Bill Levy of Naec , oceans activist and producer Tom Roberts of Parley, Manuela Seve and Renata Thome from purpose-driven art collective Alpha’a, Chloe Vichot of plastic-free eatery Ancolie, and visual artist Basia Goszczynska. At both activations, we discussed more responsible ways to support artists in our business, reduce our waste at home and work, and steps we can make in our communities to inspire others to participate in making a change.

We believe time is of the essence and that change starts with each of us. This is why Habitas is committed to eliminating plastic waste by going plastic-free in all of our homes. Below are just a few straightforward techniques we’re adopting to help show the Earth how much we care, not only on Earth Day, but every day going forward. Together, we can make a positive impact on our surroundings. Here are just a few of the things we learned this past week: 

Start by calculating your plastic consumption. 

Confronting the issue isn’t always easy, but to change a habit, we believe in taking an honest look at how much we consume on a daily basis. Everything from cling wrap to the plastic stirrers included with our coffee add up over time.  We love this simple to use calculator, which helps us set goals for eliminating our use of plastic materials by calculating how much we use on average. 

Bring your own shopping bag. 

Get in the habit of keeping a canvas bag or two with you for transporting your groceries. When you buy produce, avoid putting items in individual plastic bags. It’s estimated around 5 billion bags a year end up getting tossed out. Be part of the solution by cutting them out of your routine completely. 

Replace disposable food containers with reusable ones. 

In all of our homes, we use glass containers only for takeaway items. Next time you order takeout, take a good look at how much plastic is included. From cutlery to packaging, much of it is unnecessary and intended for single-use. The bulk of plastics floating in the vortexes at sea comes from food consumption. Make a point to bring your own containers with you like a ceramic or glass tupperware.

Carry a reusable thermos for water.

Stay hydrated while protecting the planet. We’re big fans of steel or glass water bottles, and now there are even bottles with built-in filters if you’re concerned about water quality. 

Shop in bulk and bring your own containers for refills. 

At our home in Tulum, we use organic, local soap and shampoo bought in bulk. The soap is then dispensed in refillable containers instead of using single-use travel-size bottles. You can easily become part of the solution by cutting down on your consumption by buying things like soap or household items in bulk quantities. Bring your own bags and jars with you and you can cut your plastic footprint by a significant margin. 

Choose vintage when shopping and consign or donate your used clothing.

Fast fashion and cheap textile production is a primary contributor to climate change. It takes over 2,000 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans and too often polyester-blends mean tonnes of microplastics are flushed into the oceans. To cut down on this cycle, we love shopping for vintage items instead. With online retailers and local businesses selling one-of-kind housewares or clothing that otherwise might have ended up in a landfill, it’s a terrific alternative to buying into fast trends that fade. Additionally, donating our clothing and accessories to organizations that can help them find a new home is a great way to give back. 

Invest in items for the long term, and use your creativity to prolong their longevity. 

Too often, when something chips or breaks, we chuck it in the waste-bin without a second thought. We believe in investing in high quality items designed to last a long time and taking care of them over the years. Using natural detergent and washing clothes less frequently will help prolong their life as will taking footwear to the cobbler for maintenance as needed.  Choose clothing made of organic materials instead of microfibers like polyester, acrylic and rayon. Preserve the life of your items by mastering quick repairs—you’ll be shocked when you learn how much can be fixed with a screwdriver or a needle and thread. A growing number of companies, like Patagonia, even offer easy-to-use repair services for their products. By supporting their efforts, we’re committing ourselves to reducing waste. 

Header Image: Installation by Basia Goszczynska