There’s no denying it, the statistics around plastic waste are staggering. More than half a trillion plastic bottles are sold around the world every year, while over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes will be trashed. And 3 trillion cigarette butts — their filters made of plastic — are carelessly tossed, while millions of rolls of plastic food wrap, typically used only once, are discarded by U.S. households annually.
We’re drowning in plastic, with 18 billion pounds of it ending up in the ocean every year. Americans alone purchase and then throw out about 50 billion plastic water bottles annually, averaging 13 bottles per month per person, according to Green Cities. Scientists have even found plastic waste in the stomachs of birds and sea creatures that have ingested microplastics in remote corners of the Arctic.
It is time to reduce our plastic waste and make clean water a priority. Join the Plastic-free Philly movement and pledge to reduce your consumption of single-use water bottles. Then, check out these other areas in your day-to-day life where you can ease off plastics and help keep our environment healthy!
Consider purchasing food items such as granola, tea, nuts, beans, spices and rice in bulk by bringing your reusable containers to the store and filling them many times over. You can save money on your purchase, too! Farmers markets are also a good place to buy fresh food and baked items that come without plastic bags and wraps. If you only have access to grocery shops, opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead of frozen products that come in single serving cups or wrappers. Use your own clean reusable bags, such as backpacks, tote bags or even paper bags, for every trip to the store. Leave the bags near the door or in the trunk of your car so you don’t forget.
Bathroom and Laundry
Try powdered laundry and dish detergent that comes in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles. Buy bar soap and shampoo instead of liquids that come in plastic containers. Baking soda has many uses around the house, including as a deodorant, toothpaste or all-purpose cleaning agent. Consider a safety razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor and a toothbrush made from other materials like bamboo. Use washcloths instead of paper towels, sponges or plastic loofahs.
Use a refillable bottle or mug for your coffee and tea, even when ordering to-go. And ditch those plastic straws. If a straw is a must, buy a reusable stainless steel or glass straw. For lunch, pack your food in reusable containers or leftover glass jars and bring it all in a lunchbox. If you need to order out, though, tell the cashier to hold the plastic cutlery and any of those condiments that come in little plastic pouches. Also bring a container for any of your restaurant leftovers. Be sure to keep a set of your own utensils at work in your desk!
Keep those glass jars of pasta sauce or baby food after they are finished, and reuse them for storing leftovers, prepped foodstuffs or other various household items, such as buttons, nails or pencils. Making a meal at home, instead of take-out or pre-made foods, can help reduce plastic waste significantly. If you have the time or interest, many of your tasty favorites such as juice, tortillas, yogurt, bread or salsa can also be made at home instead of purchased in plastic containers. Cut back on gum or give it up, since gum is made of synthetic plastic. For the grill, stove or the junk drawer, consider keeping matches or a refillable metal lighter instead of disposable plastic lighters.