In today’s fast paced, to-go world, avoiding one-use plastics seems like an impossible task. These disposable, single-use plastics are used for to-go cups, food packaging, and many convenience products. They are cheap, relatively strong and hygienic to use, but can cause problems around the globe.
According to the World Bank, there were 242 million tons of plastic waste generated worldwide in 2016, with more that 35 million tons of that coming from North America. And, the sheer volume of plastic waste is not the only problem. The sun can break it down into smaller fragments known as microplastics. These are hard to detect and clean up, and have been found in everything from tap water to table salt.
Avoid Basic Disposables with Smart Alternatives
There are several places in your day to day life you can reduce your need for one-use plastics. Make a kit of reusable items to replace many day to day needs. Keep this handy in your car or office. This kit can include: reusable shopping bags and produce bags, a water bottle, a set of utensils, and a silicone or metal straw.
There are also several alternatives you can use at home, like bees wax cloths instead of plastic wrap, silicone bags to replace zipper storage bags, and cloth diapers to replace disposable.
Bring Your Own To-Go Containers
When eating out, you can bring reusable food containers from home. Not every restaurant will allow it, but when possible, this will keep you from needing disposable containers. When ordering take out or delivery, decline the restaurants complementary plastic utensils. Ultimately, the best way to reduce waste (and save money), is to prepare your food at home.
Consider Your Personal Circumstances
Every solution won’t work for every person. Not everyone may have the ability to keep a “green” kit with them. Start with easy, small steps, like using a reusable water bottle, or extending the use of single-use plastics by washing and reusing them. Cigarette butts are the largest source of single-use plastics in the environment. If you are a smoker, quitting can lead to a healthier environment and a healthier you. And lastly, you can support policy initiatives that encourages recycling in your community.
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