5 Easy Ways To Use Less Plastic & 4 Reasons Why
Plastic seems to solve problems, but it is a convenient habit we need to break. Forget to bring a water bottle? Grab plastic one while filling up your tank. Hosting a gathering? Use plastic utensils to make clean up easy. Don’t want ice clicking against your teeth? Plastic straw to the rescue. Plastic keeps prices low, but there are costs for convenience. We just don’t pay them when we check out at the cash register.
4 Reasons to Use Less Plastic
1. Plastic is designed to last forever and yet half of it is single-use, which means it is used once and thrown away. But there is no away. When plastic is sent to a landfill it slowly breaks apart, usually over hundreds of years, leaching toxic chemicals into the ground and polluting groundwater reservoirs.
2. If it doesn’t go in a landfill, plastic could end up in the ocean. Believe it or not, 80% of marine waste comes from in-land sources. Since plastic is light litter, items from dumps and landfills blow over to streams and rivers and are carried to oceans or wash up on beaches. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has found that 33 to 66% of these items are single-use plastic packaging.
3. Even though recycling is helpful, it doesn’t solve the plastic problem. Unfortunately, recycling only delays a plastic item’s trip to the landfill, or the ocean. When plastic is recycled, it is downgraded in to a lower form of plastic until it becomes unusable and is eventually thrown away anyway. Materials like aluminum, stainless steel, and glass can be recycled with no loss in quality. They never need to end up in a landfill.
4. Despite the advantages of other packaging materials our demand for plastic keeps growing. By 2050, we’ll be making more than three times as much plastic stuff as we did in 2014 and our landfills and oceans will be overflowing. At the same time plastic in the ocean could outweigh fish pound for pound, according to a report by the Ocean Conservancy.
5 Easy Ways to Use Less Plastic
The good news is that unlike so many other issues we face, there is a way to solve the plastic problem. We can use less. Often there are better, more sustainable choices. Here are 5 easy ways to use less plastic in your life:
1. A reusable water bottle. The key here is remembering to bring the water bottle with you to the gym, in your car running errands, and at work. If you don’t have it on hand, those plastic water bottles are all too tempting.
2. Reusable bags. I owned a number of reusable bags, but they were never there when I needed them. Since I started keeping the larger ones in the car and smaller ones in my purse I haven’t had to carry everything I buy out in my arms.
3. Refusing plastic straws. Every day on this planet 500,000,000 straws are used once and then thrown away. The easiest thing to do is to refuse them before they are dropped off on the table. However, if straws are important to you, as they are to my son, there are great stainless steel and glass straw options out there.
4. Pick items without plastic packaging. As I’ve become more aware of plastic I’ve tried to start looking for different packaging options. Aluminum, steel, and glass are better options then plastic. We started Plaine Products to offer a way to use less single-use plastic in our own bathrooms when we couldn’t find another alternative.
5. A reusable coffee/tea mug. Because of their waxy material disposal coffee cups are tough to recycle and usually end up in landfills. Bringing a mug may inspire others!
While not using a plastic bag, skipping a plastic water bottle, or making a different choice on the packaging of your shampoo may not seem like a big deal, if we all start to make better choices it will add up. Those small decisions to take responsibility for our waste may inspire others to rethink their choices of convenience.
Together we can all be the start of a packaging revolution to ensure the next generation isn’t choking on the plastic mess we created.
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