In a world where you continuously hear about reducing plastic, it’s amazing how we remain constantly surrounded by it each and every day. From the buttons on our shirts to our shampoo bottles and shopping bags—sometimes, it seems as though there is no escape. And while imagining life without plastic may seem impossible, you can make small changes in your everyday routine to ramp down plastic consumption and live a greener life.
Benefits of reducing plastic
The largest and most widely known benefit of reducing plastic is ensuring a safer environment for all. In an attempt to improve our planet’s health, every little bit counts. Plastic waste causes lasting damage to the environment, and in turn, has negative effects on both land and sea animals.
Located between Hawaii and California—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world. Recent sampling shows more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic within its proximity, with these numbers continuing to increase each and every day. Since the size and color of these plastic pieces all vary, many sea creatures are confusing these items for food. In turn, this has been creating issues where animals get these plastics caught in their digestive tracts or around their bodies, leaving many with shortened lifespans or worse.
In terms of plastic waste on land—any plastic entering into a landfill can take hundreds of years before it decomposes. Items such as plastic bags have been known to take anywhere from 10-1,000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take upwards of 450 years to decompose. That’s a long time!
According to Calton Nutrition, it’s estimated that nearly 93 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA, otherwise known as bisphenol A in their systems. BPA is a synthetic chemical that mimics estrogen in the body, with studies showing the correlation between BPA and health issues such as obesity and insulin resistance. This chemical can be found in a wide variety of plastic items, including water bottles, plastic wraps, personal care products and even laundry products. In turn, BPA is making its way into the foods you consume, making its way into your body. To help you avoid BPA, reduce your use of plastic!
Not only can reducing plastic use help both the environment and your health, but it can also save you money! Once you begin transitioning everyday items like water bottles and shopping bags to reusable ones, you won’t need to be replacing them for wasteful single-use plastics. Over time, you’ll notice the savings start to kick in.
The benefits of reducing plastic run far deeper than the typical “saving our environment” spiel. Here’s how to hop on the bandwagon.
How to reduce plastic
Stop using plastic straws
Both in restaurants and at home, it’s time to ditch the straws. Not only do these pesky things disrupt the environment and all of us living in it, but are they even necessary? Simply go without. Or, if you do find that a straw is needed, you can purchase re-usable stainless steel straws at your local supermarket.
Buy a reusable produce bag
Sure, a lot of times after getting home from the supermarket, you may keep your plastic bags to use for future purposes. Instead, opt for a reusable grocery bag. Not only can they typically fit more produce than the average plastic bag, but they are also quite durable—meaning they can be used as a tote, gym bag and more. Just make sure to wash your bag regularly to rid of any bacteria!
Reusable water bottles
Not only is buying plastic water bottles a complete overload on the plastic, but it will cost you more money over time. Instead, purchase a reusable water bottle that you can bring with you wherever you go. With a lot of the bottled water on the market being sold as refiltered tap water—invest in a water filter for your home, and get to fillin’!
Purchase in bulk
Rather than purchasing all of your grocery items in small bundles, consider transitioning to larger bulk items for all your shopping needs. Not only will these products last you longer, but buying in bulk is actually a great way of saving yourself a few bucks. And buying in bulk minimizes individual packaging.
No matter your gender, chances are, you’ll have to shave at some point in your life. And if not? More power to you! However, in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste you’re collecting over time, opt for a razor with a replaceable blade instead of disposable ones.
In life, there may come a time where you’re too lazy to make a home-cooked meal and are in the mood for some greasy takeout. No matter if you’re craving some lo mein from down the street or want to dive head first into spaghetti from your favorite Italian joint, ditch the plastic cutlery and tell the restaurant you’re all set. Plastic forks are flimsier anyways, so you’re doing yourself a favor.
For the plastic items you do still find yourself using, be sure to recycle them rather than throwing them into the trash. Not only is it possible to recycle items such as plastic water bottles and containers—but you can also recycle softer plastic items including bags and wrappers with a little extra work. However, with these soft plastics causing issues at normal recycling centers, it’s important that they are taken to a specialized collection center. For a list on where to find these collection centers, check here.
Well, there ya have it. Simple and convenient ways to reduce plastic use, right in the comfort of your own apartment.
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