According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a whopping 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Because plastic is neither biodegradable nor digestible, it poses an enormous danger to marine life and the environment, and unlike paper or food, it has the potential to stick around for centuries. Here are 10 easy ways to reduce your plastic footprint:
1. Reusable shopping bags
Instead of using plastic bags when you go shopping, keep a few reusable totes in your purse or your car so they’ll always be handy. These fun patterned bags are sturdy yet lightweight, and can easily be folded flat so they won’t take up much space.
2. Shop farmer's markets
Standard supermarkets tend to use unnecessary amounts of packaging. Visit your local farmer’s market on the weekend to get your fresh produce fix without all that excess plastic. You can even bring your own bag or container and return the little plastic basket back to the vendor to reuse.
3. BYO bottle or cup
Next time you buy a latte, skip the single-use coffee cup, most of which are lined with a thin layer of plastic, and keep a reusable coffee cup handy instead. In that same spirit, avoid plastic bottles of water and stay hydrated with a reusable bottle.
4. Forgo plastic cutlery
Ordering takeout makes life easier, but it often comes with way too much plastic. Most delivery services, like Seamless and Grubhub give you the option to forgo the plastic cutlery, and you can use your own instead. Also, you can request that they leave out the single-use condiments packets—chances are you’ve got ketchup and mustard at home anyway.
5. Skip the saran wrap
Instead, use foil (and remember to recycle it afterward) or even better, a reusable food wrap cloth, like these beeswax wraps. They do the job just as well and they’re happily eco friendly.
6. Store food in glass containers
Leftovers are the best, but those plastic tupperware containers? Not so much. Glass storage containers are not only safer, they’re also better for the environment. Try this conveniently sized set from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
7. Go for cork
When you’re stocking up on wine for the holidays, make sure to only buy bottles with natural cork stoppers. Synthetic cork stoppers and metal screw caps are not made from renewable sources and are therefore not biodegradable.
8. Choose cardboard
If you must choose between cardboard and plastic, cardboard is the better choice. Not only is cardboard easier to recycle than plastic, it tends to biodegrade more easily. So next time you’re deciding between the boxed and the bagged pasta at the grocery store, you know what to do.
9. Say no to straws
According to strawlessocean.org around 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs. Ingested plastic reduces a marine animal’s chance of survival to only 50%. So go ahead and quit your straw habit altogether, or if you must, then choose a reusable alternative.
10. Read ingredients lists
It may surprise you, but microplastics are commonly found in consumer products like face wash and toothpaste. When buying your cosmetics and toiletries, check the ingredients list and avoid items that contain polypropylene or polyethlene.
According to expert predictions, by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish, if we keep consuming at our current rate. Pretty scary stuff, but here’s the good news: if we all commit to reducing the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives, together we can make a significant impact.