Long before we moved to the Gulf Coast, I had a deep love for the ocean. Every vacation, every spare weekend we had, we tried to spend it at the beach and in the water. But the home to so many incredible and majestic creatures is being choked by our use of plastics.
“Every year, more than eight million tons [of plastic] ends up in the oceans,” according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. And while marking World Environment Day this month, he said if present trends continue, our oceans will have more plastic than fish by the year 2050. A sobering and saddening statistic.
But the good news is, there are so many easy and affordable ways to reduce your use of plastics.
Let’s first start by listing the most commonly used single-use plastics:
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Each one of these types of plastics can easily be cut out of your daily routine. Here are some easy and affordable alternatives.
Skip The Plastic When You Shop
Take your own bags
The simplest way to avoid bringing plastic bags home from the grocery store is to take your own reusable bags. Every store sells them near the checkout counters anywhere from 50 cents to a couple dollars each. Some are hard, durable, sometimes already recycled, plastics and others are made of washable fabric. I have a ton from Walmart and Publix that I can throw in the washing machine after a few uses.
Skip the produce plastic
Even people who skip the plastic shopping bags still tend to reach for those plastic produce bags. And once you’ve wrapped up all your fruits and veggies, you’ve accumulated a bag worth of plastic. But you don’t need to. Those fruits and vegetables weren’t grown in a clean, plastic environment and need to be protected from the grocery store to your house. They were grown in the dirt! Just throw those puppies in your cart and wash them before you cook/eat them.
Pack It In Something Else
This is one of the biggest hangups people have. And I’m not gonna lie, it IS super simple to throw your leftovers and a whole lotta other things in plastic, Ziploc style bags. But remember the oceans! This one will take a little more effort, but once you get used to the alternatives, you will not miss these bags, I promise! I haven’t bought plastic bags in probably a year.
Pretty much any type of food you used to put in a plastic bag, can be put in a reusable, Tupperware style container instead, including those sandwiches you make for the kids’ lunches. I use Sistema products because they’re very durable and have compartments to separate types of food.
Fabric or reusable baggies
But if you still want a slim pocket style option, there are a lot of reusable choices there too. I use BlueAvocado bags and have been very happy with them so far. My one warning: don’t put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand to keep the ziplock in good working order.
Good old-fashioned paper bags
I bought a giant package of brown paper bags to decorate for my daughter’s birthday party and had a ton left over so ever since, we’ve been using them for some things I would have put in plastic before… like pretzels, popcorn, and other dried foods.
Fill ‘er Up
This is probably the easiest switch to make and you see a lot of people walking around with refillable water bottles or large cups with lids. And guess what? This one obviously saves you a lot of money too. Filing up a bottle from your tap is a lot cheaper than buying cases of bottled water.
And there are so many great stainless steel water bottle options that keep liquids cold and hot for hours.
Just say no to the straw
This is another tough one. What do you get with your drink every time you order take-out or fast food? A cup with a plastic lid and plastic straw. The best option is to just say no thank you, keep it. You drink out of cups without straws at home, you can do it at a restaurant just as easy.
Have another option for kids
But I do understand that there are times when lids and straws are important. Reason #1- kids. When my kids were younger there is no way I would trust them with a cup full of liquid without a tight lid. There are two ways you can tackle this. (I know it might seem like a pain, but remember the oceans!)
1- Bring along a reusable cup with a lid or 2- Bring along your own reusable straw
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