In 2009, over 30 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the United States. Of all of this plastic, only a tiny 7 percent was recycled. Plastic is highly unfriendly to the environment, as it can take thousands of years to biodegrade. Every year, around 8 million tons of plastic enters the oceans, and there are estimated to be over 5 trillion individual pieces of plastic in the seas.
With shocking statistics like these, the need to reduce plastic usage becomes apparent. However, cutting down on how much plastic we use is not necessarily easy. Plastic is used in a huge number of everyday items, so avoiding it as much as possible can actually take a lot of time and effort.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastics are extremely wasteful, but unfortunately, extremely common. Plastic dominates as a cheap and easily mass-produced material for packaging of all kinds of items. Examples of single-use plastics include drinks bottles, disposable razors, disposable straws, and plastic sachets. Reducing how many of these items you buy and instead replacing them with non-plastic items and/or reusable items can make a huge difference.
Use Paper or Canvas Bags
A plastic carry bag can actually take over 500 years to fully biodegrade. Thankfully, there are plenty of things that you can use instead of these plastic bags. When going grocery shopping, why not choose a paper bag if this is an option? Another thing that you can do is to carry around a reusable bag made of canvas material. Not only are these more eco-friendly than plastic bags, but they are also usually more stylish. Keeping a few of these in your car or bag can eliminate your need for plastic bags when grocery shopping.
Use Refillable Cups
A lot of cafes, restaurants, and shops use plastic takeout cups. However, most also encourage you nowadays to bring a refillable cup, and many even sell their own. Although buying a refillable cup usually costs more than the free plastic cup, most businesses offer discounts or incentives for using refillable cups, so you can actually save money in the long term!
Fix Plastic Items Rather Than Replacing Them
Let’s face it; many household items are made of plastic. When one breaks, your first thought may be to buy a new one. However, you may be able to repair them. If the item is electrical, you may be able to find online tutorials explaining how to fix it. If it is a simpler item that has just cracked or snapped, you may be able to weld it back together.
Use Homemade Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are a common source of single-use plastic. However, when your bottle of bleach or antibacterial spray has run out, that does not mean you have to throw the bottle away! There are plenty of ways that you can make your own cleaning products, and you can use these old bottles again to store them.