Reducing Plastic Waste

4 minute read
So we’ve talked about reducing packaging waste, but that covers a variety of components. It’s important to look at the individual materials too, like plastic. Plastic is one of the most widely used (and cheapest) materials today. According to Global Citizen, since the 1950’s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. That’s the equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers. And of that production, only 9% of that has been recycled. To date, worldwide, 73% of beach litter is plastic, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, and about 2 million plastic bags are used every minute. Bans on things like plastic bags and straws have already been implemented in select parts of the world, but these numbers are still on the rise in certain areas. It doesn’t just effect animals and sea life, it effects the human population as well. The average person eats 70,000 microplastics each year. Additionally, over 90% of all birds and fish are suspected to have plastic particles in their stomach and more than 1.1 million of them are killed from plastic pollution every year. Here, we will highlight a few steps you can take to not just reduce packaging waste but reduce plastic waste and usage as well.

  1. Reusable Bags

Always keep them handy! By keeping reusable bags with you at all times – at the office, in your car, etc., you can save dozens of plastic bags per grocery trip. Many stores will even offer a credit to you for using your own bags. They are sturdier and bigger than standard plastic grocery bags, thus more sustainable and safer for the environment.

  1. Avoid products with microbeads

Those little plastic microbeads that you can find in things like toothpaste, body scrub, face wash, etc., typically end up being washed down the drain. They are notorious for being absorbent to toxic pollutants and end up having a direct impact on the environment. They get washed down the drain and end up in the water system, full of those toxic pollutants. Fish and other sea life consume them, humans and animals eat the fish, thus it circles back to not only effecting animals and sea life, but the human population as well.

  1. Recycling properly

This sounds like a given, but in reality, only 34.5% of Americans recycle properly. Nine out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier.” However, it doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you contact your township and acquire the proper recycling guidelines, you’d find that it’s not as difficult as you think! Some helpful tips include having a recycling bin in every room, know what should and shouldn’t be in them, wash anything that is to be placed in the bin (debris on recycled items can slow down the recycling process once collected), create a compost, and try buying items that are already made from recycled goods.

  1. Make a swap

Instead of using plastic straws, buy reusable ones. Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging smaller quantities utilize. Have reusable bottles on hand to avoid plastic bottles. Try eating more fresh foods. The frozen food section is not only less healthy, but it’s full of excess packaging, including plastic and boxes. Opt out of putting your produce in plastic bags. Produce should be washed anyways, and most fruits and vegetables tend to have their own naturally made “packaging,” so letting your produce hang loose is one step closer to eliminating plastic.

  1. Make your voice heard

As mentioned, certain types of plastic have already been banned in a few areas. By contacting your local township or government office, you can do your part to help eliminate plastic pollution by convincing others to do the same.

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