Single-use plastics are everywhere: the straw in our iced coffee, the plastic bags we use to carry our takeout home, the shampoo bottle on our shower rack. What’s more, they’re so ubiquitous—and so quickly thrown out—that they hardly register in our minds. But what is the actual cost of this prioritization of convenience over durability? The answer is pretty scary. Each year, we produce 300 million tons of plastic waste – with 8 million tons ending up in our oceans. Beyond that, microplastics in farm soils is a growing concern and is an overall threat to global human health. Not to mention, they are a contributing factor to climate change.
With all that we know about the dangerous implications of our single-use plastic habit, many people are making more environmentally-conscious choices when it comes to our consumer habits. If you want to join in the fight against single-use plastic pollution, here are some tips to get started!
- Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
- Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often!
- Give up gum. Did you know chewing gum creates more than 100,00 tons of plastic pollution each year.
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
- Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop. Some of them even offer a bring-your-own-cup discount!
- Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
- Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus you'll be eating fewer processed foods!
- Don't use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.
- Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby's carbon footprint and save money.
- Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for the environment.
- Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
- Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
- Skip the receipt. Thermal paper used for things like store receipts, movie tickets, and boarding passes are coated with measurable levels of BPA.
What switches have you made to eliminate single-use plastics from your life? Let us know in the comments!