5 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste and Pollution
Plastic Bottle Usage
How many plastic water/soda bottles do you personally go through in a week?
The Effects of Plastic Pollution
Our species's overuse of plastic has become an environmental epidemic, that continues to spread in very undesirable places on the planet. Plastic is being used in many faucets of our daily lives, from micro-beads contained in facial washes, and even in chewing gum. Plastic is not bio degradable and simply will break down into smaller particles that inevitably get to places we never meant for them to go–such as our oceans.
Every year our oceans are being littered with plastic waste, to the point of having vast islands of plastic and garbage. Look around you, whoever you are and virtually wherever you are, most likely you are surrounded by plastic items. Everyone is to blame, but it’s not too late, we can still change the way we treat our world. There is still time to save the only planet we've ever called home. Let’s reduce plastic waste by limiting our need on plastic products.
Plastic waste kills hundreds of thousands of marine animals every year, and those numbers are only going upward. The small particle in plastic even get eaten by fishes, and it is toxic for them, spreading to other fishes that might feed on even smaller fishes. If we are to undo the damage we’ve done, we must reduce plastic waste and further usage of any plastics immediately. Here are five easy ways to reduce your plastic usage.
1. Switch to Reusable Shopping Bags
Bring a reusable container or bag with you to shopping excursions, they can fit conveniently anywhere; such as your car, purse, or backpack. Many grocery stores even offer a discount on their varied goods if you shop with a non plastic, reusable shopping bag. So, if helping to save our planet isn't enough of an incentive, how about saving some green to boot?
2. Use Plastic Free Products
Take a stand and make a commitment to only buy your items and goods in glass containers, instead of plastic. If we can all band together and buy less products that are primarily made of plastic, we can directly affect the supply. Less demand equals less supply. Here are just a few alternatives to commonly plastic items:
- Instead of using plastic water bottles, invest in a metal, reusable water container.
- Use sustainable metal "Zippo" lighters, instead of throwaway plastic ones.
- Consider toys that are make out of wood and other natural materials, there are even wooden legos out there.
- Go with metal or wooden straws, and ditch plastic straws that end up in land fills.
- Switch to wooden toothbrushes and hairbrushes that last much longer.
3. Stop Chewing Gum
Yes, gum has plastic in it. Most gum these days has polyethylene and a polyvinyl acetate synthesized by scientists. Chewing gum use to be made with a natural rubber from tree sap. Not only does gum contain unnatural plastic elements, it is also packaged in plastic. Gum is supposed to be recyclable, but when was the last time you recycled your used chewing gum?
4. Quit Smoking Cigarettes
Quit smoking cigarettes, which contains plastic, you can find cigarette butts everywhere. Yet another reason to encourage people around you to stop smoking! The toxic smoke from the cellulose acetate(a type of plastic) is more harmful than the other 4,000 chemicals contained in one cigarette. I am personally flabbergasted as to why people continue to smoke, knowing this information. Yikes!
Fortunately, this does not apply to a majority of the public, but everyone knows at least one person that smokes regularly. So you might want to consider spreading this tidbit of information. Not only are you saving a family member or a friend, you're also saving the planet.
5. Avoid Plastic Packaging for Food
In a more conscientious world emerging, store bought foods are using less plastic, and hopefully one day will forgo it all together. But being a realist, I know people will still buy prepackaged food for convenience purposes. What we can do is to buy less frozen foods, which is heavily packaged in plastics. Plus, you will be cutting back on the processed food we are all too accustomed to eating these days.
Shocking Facts About Plastic
- 30-40 million tons of plastic waste is produced every year in the United States. Additionally, less than five percent of that is recovered, through the process of recycling.
- Ending up in countless landfills, toxic plastic components seep into ground water, polluting the very water we drink. These compounds are severely detrimental to the human body, causing tumors, cancers, birth defects, and a host of other ailments.
- Public entities in California alone spend more than $290 million dollars cleaning up coastal plastic trash, annually.
- An average American office employee uses over 400 disposable plastic, paper, Styrofoam cups a year alone.
- Recent studies and statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency report that only about two percent of plastic bags are being recycled in the U.S. The remaining 98% end up in our oceans and landfills, where they do massive harm to our ecosystems.
- If just one human being switched to reusable bags for their entire lifetime, it would remove roughly 24 thousand plastic based bags from our planet.
- Plastic bags are derived from petroleum products and natural gas, both are non-renewable resources, and churning them out causes gas rates to go up.
Raising Awareness of Plastic Waste
Ultimately, the best course of action individuals can take is to raise awareness. The fate of our precious planet and it's sustainability is in our hands. What kind of world do we really want our children to inherit? Please feel free to share this important article with a friend or on any social media platform.