How to Use Less Plastic
It's no secret that plastic pollution is a huge problem. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans – and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The average person uses over 500 plastic water bottles per year, and plastic takes over 400 years to decompose.
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Single-use plastics, in particular, are a major contributor to plastic pollution, as they are designed to be used only once before being thrown away.
However, many of these plastics end up in our environment, where they can cause serious harm to wildlife and ecosystems. For example, plastic bags can choke or strangle marine animals, while microplastics can be ingested by creatures of all sizes, causing internal damage and even death.
What’s more, plastic pollution is not just a problem for the natural world – it’s also a problem for us humans. Plastic waste can leach harmful chemicals into our food and water, and it’s estimated that we are already ingesting up to 5 grams of microplastics each week.
So what can we do to reduce our plastic footprint? One of the best things we can do is to use less plastic at home. Here are some simple tips:
How to use less plastic in the kitchen
Use a reusable lunch bag or box. This will reduce the amount of plastic baggies or wraps that are used.
Use a dishcloth or sponge instead of paper towels. This will reduce the amount of paper towels that end up in landfill.
Avoid using Saran Wrap or aluminium foil. This will reduce the amount of plastic that is used.
Use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic. This will reduce the amount of plastic that is used.
Make your own cleaners using natural ingredients. This will reduce the amount of plastic bottles that are used.
Line your garbage can with a compostable bag. This will reduce the amount of plastic bags that are used.
How to use less plastic in the bathroom
Ditch the disposable razor - Those plastic disposables might be convenient, but they’re terrible for the environment. Instead, switch to a reusable razor with metal blades. You’ll not only save plastic, but you’ll also save money in the long run.
Buy in bulk - Many bathroom staples – like shampoo, conditioner, soap and toilet paper – come in plastic bottles or packaging. To reduce your plastic waste, buy these items in bulk and transfer them to reusable containers.
Make your own products - You’d be surprised how many bathroom products you can make yourself with just a few simple ingredients. DIY alternatives to store-bought items like shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste are not only better for the environment, but they’re often cheaper, too.
Recycle - Of course, recycling is always better than throwing something away. If you can’t avoid using plastic, make sure you recycle it properly.
Avoid microbeads - Many bathroom products, like face wash and toothpaste, contain microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that end up in our waterways and harm marine life. To be safe, avoid products that contain microbeads and opt for natural alternatives instead.
How to use less plastic in the laundry room
Buy concentrated laundry detergent. It comes in a smaller bottle, so you’ll use less plastic overall.
Switch to dryer balls. They’re made of wool, so they’re completely natural. Plus, they’ll save you money in the long run because you won’t need to buy dryer sheets anymore.
Line-dry your clothes when you can. The sun is a natural disinfectant, so your clothes will end up just as clean. Plus, you’ll save money on your energy bill.
Invest in a reusable lint trap. Most dryers come with a disposable lint trap, but you can buy a reusable one that you can wash in the washing machine.
Donate your old clothes. Instead of throwing them away, donate them to a local charity. Someone else will get use out of them, and you’ll keep them out of the landfill.
How to use less plastic when shopping
Bring your own bags - This is the most obvious one, but it’s also the most effective. If you always have a couple of reusable bags with you, you’ll never need to take a plastic bag from the store.
Don’t use plastic produce bags - Those little plastic bags they give you at the grocery store for your fruits and veggies are totally unnecessary. Just put your produce loose in your reusable bag.
Buy in bulk - Purchasing items in bulk can help reduce the amount of packaging waste. Plus, it usually saves you money in the long run.
Avoid individually wrapped items - If you can, choose items that are not individually wrapped in plastic. For example, buy a big bag of nuts instead of the little individual bags.
Bring your own containers - If you’re buying something like bulk grains or soup from a deli, bring your own container to put it in. Most places will be happy to accommodate you.
Say no to straws - Plastic straws are one of the worst offenders when it comes to plastic pollution. If you don’t need a straw, just say no.
Bring your own coffee mug - To-go coffee cups are usually lined with plastic, which means they can’t be recycled. Bring your own mug and save the cup.
Purchase secondhand items - One way to reduce your reliance on plastic is to buy secondhand items instead of new. You can find just about anything you need secondhand these days, from clothes to furniture to dishes.
Avoid plastic-wrapped items - If you can, try to purchase items that are not wrapped in plastic. This is often easier said than done, but it’s worth it if you can manage it.
Recycle what you can - While recycling won’t eliminate the need for new plastic, it’s still a good way to reduce your waste. Make sure you’re recycling all the plastic you can.
How to use less plastic in the office
Bring your own reusable water bottle or mug. This will cut down on the number of plastic water bottles you use.
Bring your own reusable cutlery. If you're going to be eating at your desk, bring your own fork, knife and spoon. This will reduce the amount of plastic utensils you use.
Use a reusable lunch box. If you usually pack your lunch in a plastic bag, consider switching to a reusable lunch box. This will reduce the amount of plastic waste you create.
Avoid single-use plastics. Whenever possible, avoid using single-use plastics like straws, coffee stirrers and plastic bags. Opt for reusable or compostable alternatives instead.
Recycle. Make sure to recycle any plastic items that you can't avoid using. This will help to keep plastic out of landfills.
By following these tips, you can easily use less plastic. Every little bit counts when it comes to reducing plastic waste.
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