Every morning when I wake up I open up the NY Times app and read the latest happenings around the globe. I usually do a quick skim to keep up to date; however, over the past few months I’ve found myself thoroughly reading through the environmental crises happening on our planet. It’s frightening and yet, astounding, to read these stats sky rocketing at an exponential rate due to, us, humans. No other mammal on the planet can do what we do… good and bad. While there’s many aspects contributing to this crisis, let’s begin with plastic. With everything, there is good and bad, and, yes, plastic has its benefits. It’s cheap, lightweight, resistant, and versatile. So it makes for a useful material like preserving food quality, revolutionizing electronics, providing good storage conditions, etc. But do these pros outweigh the cons? Starting with what we know [plastic pollution facts], I’d like to shed some light on this very real issue:
- Plastic pollution is having a negative impact on our oceans and wildlife’s health.
- High-income countries typically generate more plastic waste per person.
- Globally, our world produced 270 million tonnes of plastic in 2010, and plastic waste was 275 million.
- Plastic takes between 450 years to never in order to biodegrade.
- Between 5.3 million and 14 million tonnes of plastic gets dumped into the ocean… each year!
- Ocean plastic kills millions of marine animals every year.
These plastic pollution facts might shock you, or you might already have known. But luckily, we can do something about it! Unlike climate change, there is a solution for plastic pollution, and it starts with YOU. Be conscious. Be mindful. Be smart.
Photo via IDB
Here are 5 things I’m doing to minimize my plastic consumption:
1. Reusable straws.
I feel like this is the most common one. Using paper or stainless steel straws can greatly help the plastic consumption. Often times, plastic can be tricky to recycle, and straws in particular will go discarded because they’re too difficult to recycle. Not only are paper straws recyclable, they’re biodegradable. And they help protect the enamel of your teeth while also protecting the environment. I bring either my stainless steel straw [reusable] in my purse or a few paper straws with me every time I leave the house.
2. Reusable grocery bags
You’ve likely seen the chilling image of the plastic bag masked as the iceberg. Only 1% of plastic bags are returned to be recycled, the rest ends up in landfills. Did you know the average American family brings home roughly 15,000 plastic shopping bags a year? With this, 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually. A solution: bring a couple totes with you next time you visit the grocery store. We leave ours in the car, and anytime I forget to bring it in with us on our next grocery run, I just run out to the car to grab them.
3. Mesh fruit & vegetable bags
In tune with reusable grocery bags, mesh bags are a great alternative for fruit and veggies as opposed to the tiny plastic bags you pull off the roller at the store in the produce section. I found one on Etsy for only $5.60, and another on Weighstead for $8.50.
4. Refillable, reusable bottles
Whenever I’m headed out for a day full or errands, or going over my friend’s house for an afternoon -turned to evening- hangout, I’ll bring my swell bottle with me. How cute are these personalized ones from Etsy? Great for yourself or a gift/ party gifts!
5. Avoid plastic packaging
Of course this isn’t always possible, many of the groceries I regularly buy come in plastic packaging, but being conscious about what you buy and limiting where you can makes a difference. When I place an order online or have a package sent to me from a brand/ PR company, I always ask or check what kind of packaging they ship in- if mostly plastic, I won’t order/accept the item. Particularly if there is packing peanuts [which are nearly impossible to recycle] in the box. We also don’t use any plastic cups or plates in our house, and are slowly changing out our plastic Tupperware for glass, not only is this better for the environment but better for your health!
Remember, throwing it away doesn’t mean it’ll just go away. I made this post simply to spread awareness on this issue and educate where I can. Eliminating all plastic entirely is nearly impossible but eliminating where you can helps. No-one can do no harm but anyone can do less harm.