None of the statistics around plastics are good. I could throw out any number of alarming facts – like, we are producing over 300 million tons of plastic each year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes – or we could all just agree that our “disposable” lifestyle has to go.
While single-use plastic offers convenience, it is polluting our environment, destroying our oceans and contaminating the food chain. Most plastic we assume is being recycled actually ends up in landfills, parks, beaches or the ocean, where it breaks down into microplastics that marine animals and seabirds ingest. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If you want to dive deeper, One Green Planet details all the ugly, but here are some simple baby steps to streamline single-use plastics:
- Look around your home and identify all the disposable plastic, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. If it still is serving a purpose, don’t just toss – that’s not helpful – but look for ways to extend the life.
- Shop mindfully, actively looking for alternatives to plastic containers and packaging. If you always grab that mustard in a plastic bottle, buy the one in glass, buy loose leaf tea instead of tea in single-use bags.
- Reusable shopping bags are awesome, how about also bringing your own produce bags too? Or just go without produce bags – your apples and avocados will get along fine.
- Reusable water bottles not only for every day but also as a key part of your carryon luggage.
- Say goodbye to cling wrap and use beeswax to store food – it’s washable, reusable and compostable.
- Pack lunches in bento boxes or reusable lunchbox and use plastic-free storage bags or stainless steel containers that are washable for sandwiches and other foods.
- If you no longer need something – can you pass along to someone who could reuse? Nextdoor is a good place to list your items to help them find a new home.
- Just say no, especially when picking up takeout. Leave the plastic forks, spoons and knives.
- And, if you are still using plastic straws in 2020 – stop reading and watch this video of a sea turtle* having one removed from its nose. *warning, contains blood and a whimpering turtle.
TWO MORE R’S
- Repair rather than replace whenever possible and
- Recycle items as a last resort, rather than a first step.
Remember the majority of plastics end up in landfills where they may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, and may leak pollutants into the water and soil. The best way to ensure you are positively impacting pollution from plastic is to reduce your dependency on plastic all together.