Simple Ways to Reduce Your Use of Plastic

Plastic — it’s in so many items we use every day, that it’s hard to imagine a life without it. However, our reliance on plastic is not good for the planet. An estimated eight million tons of plastic pollutes the ocean each year, and millions of tons more ends up in landfills, where it will never decompose. The abundance of plastic is not just bad for the environment, but it can also affect our health. The chemical additives in plastics have been linked to serious health problems such as cancers, ADHD, hormone disruption, and infertility. 

While it would be great for the planet and our health if everyone could go completely plastic-free, it’s just not possible or sustainable for most people to make such a big change. However, reducing your use of plastic can make a huge impact while not taking a lot of effort. Start small, like asking a restaurant to not include plastic utensils and condiments in plastic packets with your order. Over time, it will get easier to plan ahead and find more ways to eliminate plastic from your daily routine. Here are some ideas reduce your use of plastic:

Simple Ways to Reduce Your Use of Plastic

  • Take your own reusable bags and mesh produce bags when you shop instead of using plastic ones from the store.
  • Take your own containers to restaurants to pack takeout or leftovers.
  • Stop drinking bottled water — those little bottles really add up! Instead, invest in a stainless steel bottle or two and fill up before you leave the house
  • Cut back on frozen meals — almost all of them are covered in plastic.
  • Look for stores that allow you to use your own containers for their bulk bin items, then fill up on bulk rice, beans, flours, nuts, and other items instead of buying the plastic-packaged versions on store shelves.
  • Buy beverages packaged in glass instead of plastic whenever possible.
  • Switch to bar soap over liquid soap in plastic containers. Shops like Earthwell in Kensington or the Nada Shop in Encinitas help facilitate a low-waste lifestyle by allowing customers to bring in their own containers to fill with cleaning and beauty items, eliminating wasteful packaging. 
  • Keep utensils, a plate, and a glass in your desk at work to avoid using disposable items. Wash them in the break room sink when done eating — your good habits may even rub off on your colleagues!
  • Save and wash glass jars from things like pasta sauce to use for when you buy bulk or refillable liquid items. Reusing what you have is good for the planet, and your wallet!
  • Rinse and reuse plastic storage bags, and consider investing in reusable alternatives like silicone bags or beeswax wraps
  • Carry a glass or stainless straw to use when getting coffee or drinks.

The Future of Plastic

The good news is that with plastic being such a well-known problem, many companies are switching to low-waste packaging such as glass, paper, or plant-based materials. According to Forbes, even large conglomerates like PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, and Mars are looking for new, more sustainable ways to package goods, and with their vast list of products and widespread distribution, this is good news for us, and the planet.

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