A lifestyle writer who loves finding creative ways to save money & stretch a dollar, Rachel's favorite place to shop is the thrift store.
A Global Concern
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental concerns faced by our planet today. The amount of plastic that we're in contact with on a daily basis is much greater than you may realize.
Disposable plastic is a planetary epidemic. Giant garbage patches are floating across our oceans, killing marine life and seabirds. Tiny plastic beads from facial scrubs and toothpaste are in our freshwater lakes and they won’t disintegrate. With half of the plastic we handle every day coming from one-time use products, it’s no surprise that the average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic per year.
There are some steps you can take today to start reducing your plastic waste. In your home, office, and car, you have at least fifteen plastic items that can be replaced or repurposed.
15 Items You Can Replace to Reduce Your Plastic Polution
15. Toiletries and Cleaning Products
Bathrooms and kitchens usually hold a large number of plastic bottles. In our good-intentioned efforts to keep our homes germ-free, we tend to buy a variety of cleaning products that do the same job. Try reducing the number of plastic bottles under your sink by using one multi-surface cleaner. You’ve probably got a surplus of shampoo and body wash bottles, too. Switching from liquid soap to bar soap is a simple way to cut down on plastic consumption.
14. Membership Cards
You’ve probably got one for your gym, grocery store, and favorite clothing retailer. These plastic cards—some that you hardly ever use—end up in landfills. As a member, you can typically check-in or redeem rewards points by giving the attendant your phone number.
13. Doggy Bags
Isn't it ironic that you clean up after your dog, who creates biodegradable waste, with a plastic bag that pollutes the Earth? Here’s a better solution: look for environmentally-friendly bags that are biodegradable. These bags are just as strong as regular plastic bags, and you can feel good about checking one more disposable plastic item off your list!
12. Synthetic Clothes
Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are made of polyethylene terephthalate (plastic material commonly used in clothing and containers). Every time you wash clothes made of synthetic plastic, microscopic pieces of plastic swirl down the drain and, eventually, into the oceans. Synthetic clothes can also cause irritation to your skin. Ditching them is good for you and the planet!
11. Kitchen Sponges
The foam component of your kitchen sponges is made of polyurethane. This type of plastic is very hard to recycle. Try swapping your regular kitchen sponges for sponges made with natural ingredients.
10. Phone Cases
Phone cases are stylish and functional, but they're often made from some kind of plastic. You can switch to a phone case that is made of more eco-friendly materials, or even recycled plastic.
If you have kids, chances are your basement or attic are filled with old, forgotten plastic toys. Though wooden toys are more expensive than plastic ones, they do have some serious advantages. Besides being eco-friendly, they’re also safer because they’re made of natural materials. Additionally, wooden toys are more durable and long-lasting. From a child development perspective, wooden toys are more tactile and will better develop your child’s sense of touch.
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8. Bagged Tea
Most tea bags contain some amount of plastic. Not only do you create plastic waste by consuming tea, you also ingest microplastic pieces every time you drink it. Try switching to a plastic-free brand, or simply use loose leaf tea.
According to the EPA, over 1.6 billion disposable pens are thrown out each year in the United States. If you add in the disposable pen waste from the rest of the world and multiply by fifty years (the length of time that plastic has existed), the number is astronomical! To do your part, you can switch to pencils or buy refills for your plastic ball pens.
6. Yoga Mats
Yoga is a great way to care for your mental and physical well-being. Often times, yoga mats are made from PVC, a very harmful synthetic plastic polymer. PVC also contains carcinogenic materials. Luckily, there are loads of non-toxic yoga mat alternatives.
5. Disposable Razors
The biggest issue with disposable razors is that they cannot be recycled, like many of the items on this list. A good steel razor can last a lifetime, so investing in one will not only reduce plastic waste, it will save you some green!
A toothbrush is not biodegradable in any way. Most people discard their toothbrushes every three months. One hundred years from now, those toothbrushes will remain as intact as the day you threw them away. Thankfully, biodegradable toothbrushes have recently hit the market. Bamboo toothbrushes, for instance, are one of the more popular eco-friendly options.
3. Facial Scrubs
Not only can microplastic scrubbing beads be rough on your delicate facial skin, they are also a major water pollutant. More recently, manufacturers of face washes have caught on to consumer displeasure with the tiny environmental polluters and have switched to organic dissolvable beads. Win!
2. Coffee Pods
Yes, they’re convenient and delicious—but, they’re also perpetrators of plastic pollution! You could switch to reusable pods, or use a standard pot brewer instead of single-serve. P.S. Starbucks uses recyclable paper cups and biodegradable straws. As if you needed an excuse to go!
1. Shower Liners
Shower liners are another item that's made from toxic PVC. You know that smell when you open a brand new shower liner package? That comes from the chemicals in PVC. Shower curtains and liners free of PVC can be found at most major retailers or online.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Rachel Hezel