First, what exactly is single-use plastic? Per the Natural Resources Defense Council, “single-use plastics are goods that are made primarily from fossil fuel–based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use—often, in mere minutes. Single-use plastics are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags.” (In fact, you should check out NRDC’s article on Single-Use Plastics here. Their article is eye-opening!)
In 2018, worldwide plastic production was around 359 million metric tons. Considering, an estimated 55% of plastic is thrown away, 25% is incinerated, and only 20% is recycled, that is a whole lot of plastic going into our landfills and oceans.
As consumers, how can we avoid single—use plastics since they are all around us? Most everything we buy is packaged in plastic. So frustrating!
1. The biggies that are getting popular (and I will cover again on other days) is skipping the plastic straw and using your own reusable water bottle, cup, and mug. I’ve found that most places give me a discount when I bring in my own travel mug or cup. The cost for iced tea or coffee is minimal compared to the cost of the cup they have to put it in so they will discount my drink. And I keep reusable straws in my car and my bag. They are so easy to wash and reuse!
2. When purchasing something, take a good look at the packaging and buy the option that has the least amount of plastic you would need to throw away and recycle any plastic that you can. One thing my family does is craft with the bits of plastic packaging we accumulate. I have a son and daughter who love to invent things with these pieces!
3. Buy second-hand. Instead of buying new, give a used item another life. I bought a bread maker at a thrift store for $8 about 20 years ago and I’m still using it today!
4. Ask yourself if this item is something that you could borrow from someone else? This would save you money, cut down on plastic packaging in the trash, and possibly save your home from more clutter.
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These are just a few ideas on how to avoid single use plastics. What other ideas can you think of?