We don’t have to tell you that plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems affecting the environment. Think of all the ways you use single-use plastics in your daily life: a plastic lid on your morning takeout coffee. Plastic bags at the grocery store. A plastic water bottle at yoga when you forgot your Swell. Plastic straws. Plastic utensils. Plastic shampoo bottles. By 2050, it’s predicted there will be more plastic floating in the sea than there will be fish!
Now is as good a time as any to start being mindful of packaging, and adjusting our lifestyles to limit the amount of single-use plastics we use.
If you have a friend who’s passionate about the environment (or if you just want to improve your own environmental footprint!) try taking a pledge to go plastic-free together! It’s a great way to give the gift of your time and commitment to a cause they care deeply about—not to mention it’s much easier to stick with it if you have a friend to share tips and tricks with, and to keep each other accountable.
Here are 7 ways you can start taking steps toward eliminating single-use plastic from your routine.
Trash the Takeaway Coffee Cups
Did you know less than 1% of all coffee cups ever end up being recycled? Avoid the to-go trap by making a habit of bringing along your own reusable alternative. There are almost too many environmentally-friendly options to choose from, from ceramics to glass to stainless steel, but the hard part is making it a non-negotiable part of your routine—make a habit of storing it in your purse or by the door to remind yourself to take it with you.
Shop in Bulk
So many of the foods we purchase and eat every day are packaged in plastic: produce, pasta, cereals, snacks—pretty much all of the usual pantry suspects are encased in layers of single-use trash. Buying loose food in bulk instead can help alleviate waste. When you go shopping, bring your own reusable produce bags, containers, and glass jars that you can fill up with whatever groceries you need. And do a quick search for the nearest refillery so you can apply the same thinking to plasticky toiletries like shampoos, soaps, and detergents.
Nix the Plastic Straws
Single-use plastic straws get used for a few minutes and then thrown away, where they often end up spending a lifetime cluttering rivers and oceans. If you’re buying a drink, skip the straw, stir stick and lid altogether, or if you prefer straws, you can keep a metal alternative stashed in your purse.
Nix the Plastic Shopping Bags
Single-use plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to decompose! Use reusable bags instead, and keep a stash of them someplace that’s easily accessible, whether it’s by your front door or in a pouch in your car. Not only are reusable totes sturdier than the standard plastic pouches you get at the grocery store, but it’ll keep your home from getting cluttered with unnecessary trash.
Get Smart about Food Storage
Reusable containers are a great start, but reusable beeswax wraps are also an amazing alternative for food you’d usually enrobe in cling wrap. You can even buy reusable, washable cloth bags to pack food as an alternative to Ziplocs.
Skip the Plastic Water Bottles
Choose to refuse single-use plastic bottles! Simply get used to carrying around your own reusable alternative with you wherever you go. There are a variety of environmentally-friendly options made out of stainless steel, glass or safe aluminum. And you forget your bottle one day, purchasing water in cans, paper and glass bottles are always a better option than purchasing plastic (brands like Flow and Boxed Water are great paper-based alternatives if you’re in a pinch!). And if you’re in an office or industry that’s still buying crates of plastic water bottles, talk whoever’s in charge of stocking the work fridge about installing a planet-friendly water filter instead.
Part ways with Plastic Cutlery
If you’ll be buying takeout to eat on the go, pack a set of reusable cutlery with you. A regular knife and fork from home works great, but you can also try lightweight bamboo cutlery that’s designed to be carried with you. If you’re ordering take-out to eat at home or the office, let the restaurant know ahead of time that you don’t need any cutlery. To avoid plastic take-away containers, try bringing your own reusable containers from home to the restaurant and asking to use them instead. Not only will you be using less single-use plastic, but you’ll also be raising awareness and starting necessary conversations about responsible plastic consumption.
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