Five Easy Ways to Cut Down Daily Plastic Use

Jacob Lips

Around 30 million tons of plastic was produced in the US, in 2009, but only 7 percent of those are recovered for recycling! This means that most of the plastic products are left derelict in landfills, oceans, and waterways, adding to the waste problem of the environment. A lot of people find it hard to stop using plastic products, and despite headlines about the negative effects of single-use plastic, people still keep using the same products.

It is not too late for recovery. With discipline and determination, people can still change their habits and adopt more environment-friendly ways to cut down daily plastic use.

Photo by Alexas Fotos

Start using a shopping bag, a Water Container and Recycle Straws

Plastic bags can accumulate and occupy a lot of space in the household or the workplace. To avoid clutter, bring a reusable shopping bag. Some malls also do not give plastic bags for free, and thus, bringing your shopping bag can allow one to save some money. 

It is recorded that 1,500 disposable water containers are consumed and disposed of every second. In was recorded in the US that 50 Billion disposable water bottles are sold every year. Because they are so convenient and cheap, grabbing a bottle of water is so easy. Unfortunately, it has become a habit to dispose of these bottles very easily. These bottles are not recycled properly and often end up in landfills. It takes around 1000 years for plastic to completely decompose, unfortunately, leaving chemicals in the soil.

Disposing of straws was recently banned in a lot of countries, following the discovery of an endangered turtle, who was struggling with pain after a plastic straw was stuck in its nostrils. Images of garbage clogged inside a dead whale’s stomach also caused a public uproar, urging restaurants to stop using plastic for serving refreshments.  

Choose beauty and Personal hygiene products that do not contain Microplastics

Microplastics are deliberately added in beauty products for exfoliating, smoothing, or polishing the skin since the 1960s. Some microbeads are also introduced to add waterproof properties in makeup and nail binding products, to protect the hair and the body, from humidity. With their pervasiveness, they have found their way into our food chain risking our health! 

One can avoid microplastics and microbeads by choosing products that have the “Look for the Zero” quality mark. The Beat, a Microbead app also guides customers by providing a list of products that do not contain harmful microplastics.

Avoid excessive Food Wrapping 

Shoppers often equate clean, healthy and sanitary food with the excessive wrapping in it. Fruits and vegetables wrapped in excessive food wrappers are way expensive than unwrapped food items. Food wrapping in the form of thin plastic films often ends up as single-use plastic. Once the fruit or vegetable is unwrapped, the plastic will be inevitably discarded. Imagine how many tons of food wraps are wasted every day because of this practice! 

Try to change this habit by going to supermarkets that do not use excessive packaging. Going to markets and other places to shop that offer an alternative way of selling fruits--those that are sold loose, and not pre-packed, would also be a good option.

Photo by Steve PB


Shop in Bulk 

Shopping for the same items several times a week would generate, a lot of plastic waste that ends up in the kitchen. To avoid this, try shopping in bulk. Some grocery shops have a bulk section that allows shoppers to buy products, by weight rather than individual packages. This is a shopping option that reduces the use of single-use plastics. Moreover, shopping in bulk can also help one save money. 

Different stores have different choices on what to sell in bulk. Some may sell nuts, seeds, flours, and grains, whereas some give room to organic food products, perfect for health-conscious individuals. Some shops also provide the option to buy items in bulk that are commonly used in the kitchen such as pasta, legumes, and other snacks like yogurt-covered pretzels or raisins.

Because the products are bought in bulk, shoppers must carry bigger jars and bags to accommodate the products.  

Quit plastic, rubber sponges

The conventional sponge is a contributor to plastic pollution. It is made of petroleum-based plastic and contains microplastics, which can be accidentally ingested by fish. These microfibers may damage marine life, and also cause liver damage among birds, and fish. To date, there are at least 1.4 million trillion microfibers in the ocean.

To prevent the spreading of microfibers, one must stop using these plastic sponges, and consider using alternatives that can achieve the same cleaning functions and results, as traditional sponges. 

Alternatives such as scourers and sponges are made of natural fibers. Other products such as the hemp scourer, cellulose sponge, coconut scourer, bamboo dish brush, natural bristles scrubbing brush, coconut scrubber, and the biodegradable dishcloth are made of purely biodegradable fibers and materials, that are non-toxic in nature.

Heavy-duty sponges are made of recycled sponge scourers and are made into recycling fibers. There are also dish brushes that are made from recycled plastics and Greener Dish Brushes, designed to reach tight corners of utensils.

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