A combination photo shows Natalia Lyritsis, (L), 5, Alexandra Patrikiou, (2nd L), 39, Alice Lyritsis, (2nd R), 3, and Vassilis Lyritsis, (R), 46 (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Athens, Greece, May 24, 2018. "We recycle plastic, paper, glass etc... and try to buy products made from recycled materials. We try to have as many plants as possible on our balcony," said Alexandra. "The use of alternatives to plastic should be combined with initiatives and campaigns in order to raise awareness and create a greater consensus," she added. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
A combination photo shows the Compas Ponce family (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Arriate, southern Spain, May 29, 2018. "We separate plastics, glasses, paper, cardboard, waste oils and organic wastes," said Vicente Compas. "Our use of plastic decreases every day, we are more aware of the care of the planet, our home." REUTERS/Jon Nazca
A combination photo shows Lauren Singer, 27, a former environmental studies major (top) and five year's worth of the non-recyclable or non-compostable plastic waste she has generated in Brooklyn, New York, U.S, May 30, 2018. Singer is the founder and owner of Package Free Shop, a business that sells products with a mission to create a positive environmental impact with little to zero plastic waste, and is also the founder and creator of the environmental educational blog Trash is for Tossers. Over five years ago, Singer, wanting to align her lifestyle with her values of environmental sustainability, embarked on a path to reduce her personal waste and as a result, all of the non-recyclable or non-compostable waste she generated over that period fitted into a 16 ounce mason jar. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A combination photo shows Eri Sato (R) with her husband Tatsuya and three-month-old daughter Sara (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Yokohama, Japan, May 23, 2018. "I think there's no escaping plastic waste. I see it on the streets, in the mountains, underwater. It's literally everywhere," Eri said. "In our family, we try to reduce our carbon footprint wherever we can. We're very conscious of the impacts our choices can have on the environment. First, we try to reduce consumption of plastics. This mentality is applied to both daily groceries, clothing, and many other products. When we have to consume, we try to keep it minimal. Recycling is generally the last option for us, and definitely not the first," she added. "Instead of the disposable plastic bottles, we've switched to reusable bottles. We've also gone to shampoo bars instead of bottled shampoo. Our toothbrush is made from bamboo and we use reusable shopping bags whenever we can." REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A combination photo shows Alexander Raduenz (2nd L) along with his partner Berit and his children Zoe and Yuna (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Berlin, Germany, May 28, 2018. "We try to lower our carbon footprint as much as possible. We are pretty much aware of the impact plastic has on our environment," said Alexander. "If alternatives to plastic are available, we are using them instead." REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
A combination photo shows Laura Barrado with her family (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Alpedrete, near Madrid, Spain, May 29, 2018. "We try to avoid certain purchases, mainly food, in plastic bags or plastic trays. We recycle as much as possible not only plastic but also paper or organic trash," said Laura. "We try to the best of our ability to minimise our impact on the environment to leave a better world for future generations." REUTERS/Sergio Perez
A combination photo shows the Downie family (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Pitlochry, Scotland, Britain, May 27, 2018. "We recycle what we can, and try to minimise waste generally, including food which is composted," said Karen. "Even the plastic that is recycled will ultimately have an impact. Discarded plastic does not decompose and presents a serious and irreversible long-term threat to the health of our planet, and more immediately to animals which should enjoy pristine habitats," she added. "Alternatives do already exist in many cases, but it seems are simply not widely offered because plastic offers cheap convenience. Manufacturers, retailers and governments need to do more to drive the necessary decline in use of plastic." REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
A combination photo shows Roshani Shrestha (2nd R), 57, her husband, Indra Lal Shrestha (2nd L), 62, elder son Ejan Shrestha (L), 29, and younger son Rojan Shrestha (R), 27 (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 21, 2018. "I give back the plastic bags that I have to the vegetable vendors so that they can reuse them rather than using a new one," said Roshani. "We would use alternatives to plastic since it helps the environment but it is not possible since most of the products come either in plastic wrap or some other forms of plastic," she said, "We donï¿½ use single-use plastics like cups, plates, spoon or forks." REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
A combination photo shows Gaspar Antuna (L), Elena Vilabrille and their son Teo (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Madrid, Spain, May 30, 2018. "We try to buy less but better - as much second hand as possible, reusing, and finally recycling. Mostly plastic and paper, but also fabrics, clothes and objects in general, said Elena. "But we really miss more institutional information about it. We have to make more effort when consuming but it won't be as effective if we don't know how to do it properly." REUTERS/Paul Hanna
A combination photo shows Audrey Gan (C), 31, her husband Leow Yee Shiang, 30, and their three-year-old son Kyler (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Singapore, May 21, 2018. "We started being more aware of the waste generated by our household when it was highlighted to us in our Buddhist teachings...that all this plastic waste is harming other beings on earth," said Audrey. "We try to curb our desire to shop for new and unnecessary items. If we are really craving for a drink of bubble tea, we bring our own containers to avoid the plastic cup and straw they come in. I use a cloth diaper for Kyler once he reaches home, but we use at least one disposable a day because we haven't figured out how to avoid leaks with cloth diapers overnight." REUTERS/Feline Lim
A combination photo shows Brandy Wilbur (2nd L), 44, Anthony Wilbur (R), 45, with their children Sophie (L), 12, and Andrew (2nd R), aged nine (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Wenham, Massachusetts, U.S., May 27, 2018. "We try to reduce our footprint. We all use stainless steel water bottles and bring our own coffee mugs, etc. I try to avoid single use plastics such as straws, cups and bottles, but I'm not always successful," said Brandy. "When shopping, I do try to buy products with minimal packaging, but that's challenging too, everything is packaged!" she added. "I think plastics are increasing, especially the plastics that cannot be recycled like wrappers, products wrapped in plastic wrap, snack bags, etc - all for the convenience factor. We're aware and try our best to reduce our use of plastics but it's hard. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A combination photo shows Tatiana Schnittke, (L), 39, Yaniv Ben-Dov, 44, and their son Jonathan, 2, (top) and one week's worth of plastic waste they have collected, in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel, May 24, 2018. "I think the most important aspect in this matter is to buy the minimum amount of stuff. I try, but it's hard, because we live in a capitalist world. We buy a lot of second-hand stuff, but when you go to the mall or the supermarket, a lot of things are from plastic. Everything comes with plastic," said Yaniv. REUTERS/Corinna Kern
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
May 31 (Reuters) - Faced with shops full of food and other goods swathed in plastic, families across the world are trying to reduce its use and recycle wherever possible to cut down its impact on the environment.
Reuters photographers met people from Athens to Singapore trying to play their part as the war on plastics becomes a hot political topic and governments work to outlaw single-use items such as drinking straws and cotton buds.
For the photo essay: https://reut.rs/2H1PuSo
Eight million tonnes of plastic - bottles, packaging and other waste - are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, the United Nations Environment Programme said in December.
The impact hit home for Eri Sato, 32, when she lived in Canada and volunteered to clear up debris swept across the ocean from Japan, where she now lives in Yokohama, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami there in March 2011.
"It was the first time I realized how plastic waste pollutes the oceans and beaches all over the world. I think there’s no escaping the plastic waste," she said.
How to cut down and eventually eradicate it is the question.
"Since plastic is dominating our daily life, it would be very difficult to stop using it. But, if someone somehow makes it like a habit, we think we could stop buying altogether," said Alexandra Patrikiou, 39, in the Greek capital Athens, who works hard to recycle paper and glass and buy recycled products.
Her comments were echoed by Brandy Wilbur in Wenham, Massachusetts.
"When shopping, I do try to buy products with minimal packaging, but that is challenging too, everything is packaged," the 44-year-old said.
While governments and retailers started clamping down on plastic bags through bans and small fees more than a decade ago, the focus has now increasingly turned to eradicating throwaway items such as straws and take-out food and drink packaging.
"It is really the small, single-use plastics that stick around for a long time and leach into everything," Audrey Gan, 31, said in Singapore.
"If we are really craving for a drink of bubble tea, we bring our own containers to avoid the plastic cup and straw they come in."
Like other families Reuters spoke to, the Joshi family in the Indian city of Mumbai has already started taking measures such as using bamboo toothbrushes, unpackaged shampoo bars rather than bottles and taking containers to restaurants to bring home any left-overs.
"I carry my own spoon, fork and stainless steel straw to avoid single use plastic cutlery," Mugdha Tanmay Joshi, 32, said.
For some, it is a personal battle, overcoming the preconceptions of others as they try to do their bit.
"They say ‘are you part of this green movement', ... They don’t understand it. Also not using plastic bags for vegetables is considered disgusting, they hate it .. but I still do it," said Tatiana Schnittke, 39, in Jaffa, Israel. (Reporting by Reuters photographers; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan)