It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Sadly, 50% of this number is single-use plastics – i.e. items we only use once and then dispose of. Single-use plastics (like food and beverage containers, plastic bags, or straws) are the largest contributor to plastic pollution. Not only do small animals sometimes mistake it for food, but chemicals from the plastic (like BPA and PVC) also leach into the environment.
Almost half of the plastics produced are used for packaging. While packaging definitely makes our lives easier (e.g. we use it to wrap food and keep it fresh), the fact that it serves a single use makes it a necessary evil. Luckily, there are now many other alternatives on the market. Most health and green lifestyle stores now stock natural, reusable wraps made from beeswax or soy wax. They are biodegradable, so once you’re finished with them, they can be tossed in the compost bin!
According to research, Americans buy about 29 million plastic water bottles each year. And for every six bottles sold, only one gets recycled. The rest ends up in the landfill or the ocean! While it’s good to have water on the go (we definitely advocate this healthy habit!), there are better options than plastic (especially single-use plastic!). For a sophisticated look, choose glass. It’s a bit heavier than plastic, but will keep your water tasting great. For a lightweight option, go for a stainless-steel flask that can keep cold water cold, and hot drinks hot!
Besides water, most of us enjoy a cup of coffee every day. According to the University of Melbourne, Australians throw away 1 billion coffee cups each year! In total, the world population disposes of 16 billion cups a day. Quite honestly, this is ridiculous and must stop. So, making use of reusable coffee cups is a step in the right direction. Nowadays there are many stylish coffee cup options that look much better than the disposable ones anyway! Options include recyclable plastic, glass, and bamboo. While bamboo is lightweight and dishwasher-safe, it cannot be microwaved. The glass cups are a bit heavier, but are easy to wash and can also be reheated.
In the US alone, 500 million straws are used every single day! It’s a bit difficult to drink your milkshake without one, so why not go instead with a trendy stainless-steel straw? They’re BPA-free, dishwasher safe, and environmentally friendly. If you don’t like stainless steel, there are other options like paper, glass, or bamboo. If you have a tendency to chew on your straw, we don’t recommend the glass one!
We often don’t realize how many of the products we buy contain packaging. One example is fresh fruits and vegetables. To keep the products fresh, many manufacturers sell them in plastic bags. Even if you buy loose fruits and vegetables, you probably use a small plastic bag to put it in. Next time you shop, take a fabric bag with you to use for your purchases. Try out cotton and nylon mesh bags (available from green lifestyle stores) that can be reused for fruits and veggies.
The only way to change our current situation is by not keeping on doing things like we do. Why not get your friends and family to join you for the Plastic Free July movement? Throughout the month avoid all single-use plastics and #ChooseToRefuse!