Not only are plastic wastes harmful to everything from ocean life to public health, but they require enormous amounts of energy and resources in their production process, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Pacific Institute estimated that in 2006, bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and the manufacture of just one pound of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic can produce up to three pounds of carbon dioxide. According to Stanford University, “…between 2.5% and 4.0% of total U.S. primary energy consumption in 2008 was due to the energy for plastic.” In addition to the water sold in plastic bottles, the Pacific Institute estimates that twice as much water is used in the production process. Thus, every liter sold represents three liters of water. Of course, plastic is a great tool that we have many uses for in society, but the eventual harm that the continued overuse of plastic can cause outweighs the benefits we experience today.
Knowing this, here are some ways that you as an individual can reduce your plastic usage without giving it up altogether.
- Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
- Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often!
- Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
- Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
- Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
- Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop
- Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
- Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
- Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus you’ll be eating fewer processed foods!
- Don’t use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.
- Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers (for berries, tomatoes, etc.) back. If you shop at a farmers market they can refill it for you.
- The EPA estimates that 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers are discarded in the US each year. Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby’s carbon footprint and save money.
- Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s healthier and better for the environment.
- Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
- Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
- Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor
- Use a compostable trash bag (Glad sells these!)
Now that we’ve given you some useful tips to how you can reduce your plastic consumption, we encourage you all to practice this and let us know what you have done to help protect the environment through these methods (we would love to hear from you all, leave a comment in the blog comment section)!