Plastic is literally everywhere. It’s in our coffee cups, our shoes, our mattresses – even our chewing gum. How did we become so obsessed with this stuff? And why? Well, to be fair – it’s done a lot of good too. Especially in the medical department. However, the main problem is over-use and abuse. We use it for way too many things, and most of it is single-use items companies can make a buck off of. Enough is enough. Here are 5 easy ways to ditch plastic – or at least, single-use plastic.
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5 Easy Ways to Ditch Plastic
1. Grab a reusable water bottle
Plastic water bottles don’t only drain you of so much money – they also cause plastic pollution. This doesn’t just apply to bottled water either, this goes for any soft drink with plastic packaging. A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. That means 20,000 plastic bottles are bought every second!
Worse yet, plastic bottles take up to 450 years or more to break down. Some estimates even push that number closer to 1000 years. Is this what we want our legacy to be? What’s even more disturbing is we only these plastic bottles for a few minutes, but it’ll outlive both us and our children.
I recommend investing in a reusable water bottle – like this Klean Kanteen one. It’s made from 3 simple materials: sustainably harvest bamboo, food-grade silicone, and stainless steel. It’ll also keep your drink cold for 24 hours, iced for 40 hours – something a plastic bottle could never dream of doing. And, best of all, it’ll last you a long time!
2. Invest in reusable shopping bags
Plastic bags are becoming more of a rarity at grocery stores, depending on where you live. that’s a good thing, considering the average plastic bag is used for about 12 minutes before being discarded. And these bags easily end up in our environment because they’re so light and easily picked up by breezes.
Investing in reusable bags is a great idea because you won’t need a plastic bag – or a paper one. I like the idea of plastic bag bans and all, but paper bags also require resources to make. Using a reusable bag will not only reduce waste, but it will help conserve resources where ever we can.
This also counts towards produce bags too – when shopping around the grocery store, you’ll likely stumble across these. Kiss them goodbye with a beautiful organic cotton mesh produce bag. You can reuse it over and over – at the end of it’s life, you just cut it up + compost it! Better yet, take it with you to the farmers market.
Also, check out this reusable bag from Bagito – it’s made of 100% food-safe rPET fabric from post-consumer plastics. It even comes with a pouch you can stuff it into and attach to a key ring for easy remembering.
3. Switch to a reusable straw
Did you know in America alone 500 million plastic straws are used every day? That’s an insane amount of plastic waste! They’re one of the most littered items on the beach because people often forget them there. Straws also easily end up in drains when littered, and all drains lead to the ocean.
Switching to a reusable straw is a good option: You can choose between stainless steel, bamboo, silicone, and glass. The best option is to simply refuse a straw altogether though. You can also encourage local businesses to only put straws in drinks when requested. Here’s how to write to businesses about their packaging – including straws!
4. Use a reusable container for leftovers and takeout
The next time you go out to eat, consider bringing a mason jar, metal tiffin, or glassware with you. This way, if you have any leftovers, you can just put them in there. A lot of restaurants will hand you polystyrene foam containers (aka Styrofoam) to put your food in. But this plastic is one of the worst when it comes to recyclability – more often than not, it can’t be recycled at all. Worse yet, they can actually leech toxins into your food. Yuck.
Bringing your own container is the best solution. You can also practice this with takeout orders. Call the restaurant in advance and ask if you can bring your own container for your order. If they say yes, place your order and go there to pick it up. You should be able to transfer everything into your own container on site. You don’t have to place your order over the phone to do this either – you just need to confirm the restaurant will accept your container in advance.
5. Participate in Plastic Free July
Want a challenge? Reduce your plastic waste by participating in Plastic Free July! This annual event is a great way to get into the zero waste movement and learn the basics. Plus it’s a fun way to reduce plastic waste and meet like-minded people participating in the challenge.
Be sure to make the pledge – you can choose your commitment level too, so there’s no pressure. If you’re interested, here are 18 tips for Plastic Free July you need to know. They’re help you ditch plastic without a hitch!
How do you plan to ditch plastic? Share your tips in the comments below!
For more tips on ditching plastic, be sure to check out my zero waste beginners guide for 20 valuable tips on getting started.
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