The average American uses 185 of pounds of plastic each year and it has dangerous consequences on our environment. There are simple and easy ways to lessen your carbon footprint. Try these 10 easy ways to cut plastic out of your life!
1. Stop Using Plastic Straws
The US alone uses over 500 million plastic straws a day. That could fill 125 school busses with straws, every day. These straws are polluting oceans and waterways, and are extremely harmful to wildlife. Restaurants and corporations are starting to realize this and have taken a step in the right direction by banning them, and you can too. Plastic straws are of the past, say hello to eco-friendly ones! Try using metal, bamboo, glass, or paper straws instead.
2. Use Canvas Shopping Bags
Each year, nearly 40 billion plastic bags are used in the USA. It’s easy to say that most of these bags will not be recycled properly. America can look to Europe for inspiration, where plastic bags at stores cost money or are taxed. An extremely easy way to never use a plastic bag again is by keeping canvas bags handy, like in your car’s trunk. Some grocery stores even offer a discount for bringing canvas bags. An easy way to save money and the environment!
3. Minimize Produce Packaging
Picking up fruits and veggies at the grocery store may seem harmless, but the plastic bags and containers they come in can have dangerous consequences. A simple way to avoid and minimize the plastic packaging from grocery stores, is to buy produce at a farmers market! Not only does this support local farmers and guarantee fresh food, but bringing a canvas bag or using a cardboard container is an easy way to cut back on plastic use. No farmers market in the area? Bring a produce bag to the grocery store!
4. Switch Out Your Plastic Toothbrush
An estimated 850 million toothbrushes are discarded and end up in a landfill every year in the US alone. The nylon, rubber, and plastic used to make toothbrushes are not biodegradable, and therefore toothbrushes remain in landfills indefinitely. These brushes are often found in waterways and on beaches, and can harm and kill wildlife. Even burning toothbrushes releases greenhouse gases. What’s the alternative!? you cry. Simple! Use a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead! These brushes are cheaper and clean just as well. Not to mention bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, meaning you don’t have to worry about bacteria on your bamboo toothbrush.
5. Find a New Phone Case
There are officially more mobile devices than people now, and that’s an alarming rate of plastic accessories and packaging being used on them. Billions of phone cases are purchased every year, and unfortunately, most are made from petrol-plastic and old ones aren’t being recycled. Upgrading to an Eco-Friendly phone case means that your new phone will look stylish in an Earth friendly case. Rest assured, when you are ready for a new case, your old one won’t be sitting in a landfill. Take your pick at the large variety of biodegradable and compostable phone cases!
6. Update Your Bathroom Soaps
One of the biggest plastic producers, and an item that’s rarely recycled, is shampoo bottles. Shampoo, soap, conditioner, etc. bottles are being produced and discarded at a distressing rate. These bottles are easy to recycle (just rinse them!), but there’s more you can do to eliminate them from your life. Instead of liquid soap use a bar. There are also bar options of shampoo and conditioner. These come in cardboard (recyclable!) containers which does not create toxic gases when being made. Even better, use naked products. These have no packaging at all, 0 waste. Try out Lush’s naked shampoo and conditioner bars, which are cruelty free and last longer than their liquid alternative.
7. Use a Reusable Water (Or Coffee) Bottle
In America alone, billions of water bottles are used each year, but only 1 in 5 are recycled. It takes nearly 500 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose in a landfill. Not to mention, buying plastic water bottles is 1,000+ times more expensive than using tap water. Cut plastic out of your life by using a reusable water bottle. Try using an eco friendly one, made from glass or metal. Coffee shops will also fill a bottle you bring in from home!
8. Bye-Bye Micro Beads
In 2015, President Obama passed a bill banning micro beads, yet in 2018, they are still commonly used. Micro beads are tiny bits of solid plastic used in cosmetics, exfoliates, toothpaste and body washes. They are incredibly harmful to the environment and wildlife. The micro plastics are too small to be filtered in water treatment plants and end up in waterways. Fish and other animals eat them, and then these animals are often then fed to us, humans. A recent study has even showed that these tiny plastics are in water sold by major water bottle companies. That’s right, we’re eating and drinking our own creation. You can easily avoid micro beads in two ways: read the label, or scan the barcode. Avoid products that mention the exfoliating “power” of micro beads and have “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredients list. You can also scan the barcode with the free Beat the Micro bead app, which will tell you immediately if your product contains micro plastics.
9. Time for a New Razor
In the US, billions of plastic razors are thrown away each year. Lots of these razors end up in oceans and waterways, if they there aren't taking hundreds of years to breakdown in a landfill. One way to not contribute to the production and disposal of plastic razors is by using a metal safety razor or straight-edged razor. They are waste free and last for decades. A slightly less environmentally friendly option would be an electric razor - but still better than one-use plastic ones. Not only are old fashioned metal razors better for Mother Earth, they’re better for you! You save money and are less likely to receive razor burn and ingrown hairs when using one.
10. Think Again If It’s Plastic
For everything that’s made of plastic, there is always an alternative. Before you purchase yet another thing that’s made from plastic, think of a more environmentally friendly option. It will likely save you money in the long run, and it’s a better for the planet. Your small acts to reduce your carbon footprint will help make a lasting difference.