Plastic is found in virtually everything these days. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take that will dramatically decrease the amount of plastic waste you generate. Read on to know some efficient ways to reduce plastic waste.
Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste
1. Just say no to plastic straws
Plastic straws are an easy one that you can just say no to. And the funny thing about plastic straws is they often come wrapped in plastic, so it’s a double whammy. Your most obvious option is to just sip the beverage right from the cup. If you really do need a straw, maybe for a smoothie or some sort of blended juice, try a reusable straw. There are plenty of stainless steel or glass straws on the market. It’s very simple to clean them with just a little straw brush, many sets even come with one or two. You can even get a straw that folds up in its own case that you can carry with you in your bag, purse, or lunch bag. All of these alternatives are great and work as well, or even better than a plastic straw.
2. Use reusable produce bags
About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. If you’re already bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, you’re on the right track, but if you’re still using plastic produce bags, it’s time to make a change. Purchase some reusable produce bags and help keep even more plastic out of the landfill. However, avoid those bags made from nylon or polyester because they’re also made from plastic. Opt for cotton ones instead.
3. Purchase items secondhand
One of the best ways to reduce plastic waste is to buy items secondhand. New toys and electronic gadgets, especially, come with all kinds of plastic packaging—from those frustrating hard-to-crack shells to twisty ties. Search the shelves of thrift stores, neighborhood garage sales, or online postings for items that are just as good when previously used. You’ll save yourself a few bucks, too.
4. Stop buying water
Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag, and you’ll never be caught having to resort to a Poland Spring or Evian again. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.
5. Reuse glass containers
You can buy a variety of prepared foods in glass jars instead of plastic ones, including spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, salsa, and applesauce, just to name a few. Instead of throwing these away or recycling them, reuse the jars to store food or take them with you when you’re buying bulk foods. If you have plastic containers leftover from yogurt, butter, or other food, don’t throw them out. Simply wash them and use them to store food.
6. Stop using microbeads
Microbeads were an interesting addition to health and beauty products. The unfortunate part is they end up in the stomachs and digestive tracts of lots of small animals, both on land and in the sea. In Canada, a microbead ban just went into effect and many countries will likely follow suit. However, if you like the exfoliating property that microbeads offer, there are plenty of alternatives out there. Many companies will grind up beans or shells or pumice and use that in place of microbeads. You still get that great exfoliation but you’re not putting anything unnatural back into the waterways or into the environment.
7. Cook more
Not only is it healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you do order in or eat out, tell the establishment you don’t need any plastic cutlery or, for some serious extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.
8. Use matches
If you need to light a candle, build a campfire or start a fire for any other reason, opt for matches over disposable plastic lighters. These cheap plastic devices sit in landfills for years and have even been found in dead birds’ stomachs. If you can’t bear to part with your lighter, pick up a refillable metal one to help cut down on waste.