(WFXR/STACKER) — It’s no secret that plastic is harming the planet, overflowing landfills, and polluting oceans. But what’s not talked about enough is how we can reduce our use of plastic on a daily basis.
Humans have generated more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste since 1950, and while recycling efforts have grown in recent years, only 9 percent of it has actually been reused.
There are many simple changes we can all make to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
1. Invest in Reusable Items
Glass or stainless-steel water bottle. People around the world buy a million plastic bottles every minute; In the United States, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day.
2. Opt for cloth
Rather than disposable diapers. Americans discard some 20 billion plastic diapers annually.
3. Use Travel Containers
Bring your favorite mug or travel container to the coffee shop for filling up. Some businesses offer discounts if you use this option.
4. Skip the Plastic Straw
Many companies and states like New York have already hopped on this one.
5. Stock up on Reusable Grocery Bags
Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Americans use and discard some 102 billion plastic bags annually.
6. Pass on Prepared Frozen Foods
The packaging is mostly plastic or cardboard coated with plastic.
7. Don’t Buy Chewing Gum
It’s pretty much made from plastic.
8. Use Matches
Instead of disposable plastic lighters, use matches or invest in a refillable metal lighter.
9. Avoid Plastic Wrap
Cover leftovers, cheeses, and other refrigerated food by using a dishcloth or parchment paper.
10. Cook with Cast Iron
Instead of nonstick pans. Teflon, the most common nonstick surface, is a fluoropolymer plastic.
11. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
They’re less toxic, and you can reuse spray bottles, eliminating the need for multiple plastic bottles filled with cleaners.
12. Decline Plastic Flatware
When ordering takeout, pick up bamboo or other reusable flatware for picnics and traveling.
13. Buy Food in Bulk
When possible and pack it in your own reusable jars or containers. You’ll save money and limit unnecessary packaging.
14. Bring Your Own Containers
For vegetables and fruits to the farmers’ market, where you can refill them.
15. Pack Your Lunch
Skip foods packed in single-serving plastic cups. Instead, make your lunch and bring it with you in reusable containers and bags.
16. Make your own Personal Care Items
Mix up your own hand salves, lotion bars, and deodorants instead of buying personal-care items sold in plastic containers. Coconut oil is a great base for all of these.
17. Replace your plastic containers
Reusable glass storage containers are great for leftovers.
18. Learn How to Compost
Compost your food waste to reduce the number of plastic bags needed to haul it to the landfill.
While 18 changes may be too much to take on at once, you can always choose one or two goals to focus on at first. Any conscious effort to reduce waste is a win for the environment.