Try googling “plastic”. Chances are that some of your top hits will be more than a Wikipedia explanation, and instead you’ll find news about Starbucks' plastic straw ban or statewide plastic bag bans in California and New York. Essentially, plastic has a bad (w)rap.
Okay, enough with the puns; but seriously, why all the buzz?
Unfortunately, society has become addicted to making and using plastic. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year, 50% of which is intended for single-use and often ends up in the trash.[1,2] And, we use plastic like crazy. Globally, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased per minute. On average, Americans purchase 50 billion water bottles per year, which equates to about 13 bottles per month for every U.S. citizen.
Not only do we overproduce and overuse plastic, much of it isn’t actually recycled. Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society indicated that 90.5% of all plastic has NEVER been recycled. Plus, the U.S. has been sending our plastic recyclables (and trash) to China for over 30 years, and as of last year, they said no thanks.
So, we’ve got a lot of plastic. What’s wrong with that?
Besides being an eyesore, think city-streets, road sides and in our oceans (which also gets a lot of well-deserved hype) all this plastic hurts the environment, wildlife and our health. When plastic was invented in 1907 it was lauded as a breakthrough because of its versatility. However, it wasn’t until recently that scientists have learned of the environmental and health consequences of plastic as well as its near indestructability: plastic takes between 500-1,000 years to degrade. Thus, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists. Much of that plastic has changed shape over time into what is now referred to as microplastics. These are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters in diameter that end up in our waterways, ground water and marine life. Microplastics that end up in our water and food (such as fish) are extremely worrying because they have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases.
While there are many ways that the world’s plastic addiction needs to be addressed, especially at international and national levels, there are simple ways you can reduce your dependence on plastic, especially single-use plastics like plastic bags, straws and water bottles. Here’s our top list of ways to reduce your plastic footprint from your daily routine with brands doing good for the world and the environment.
Top 5 ways to reduce your single-use plastic habit
MORNING: Get plastic out of your bathroom
In the US, 2 billion disposable razors and 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year. Upgrade your morning with the BogoBrush that is biodegradable, made in Detroit and gives back! We also recommend these plastic free razors: his and hers.
AFTERNOON: Lose the plastic lunch baggies
Whether you bring your lunch to work or eat out, we’ve got your food covered (sans plastic). Wrap your lunch with Meli Wraps! These guys are women owned and we love their patterns. Or, looking for cool to-go containers? Check out W&P’s rad ceramic bowls. We love that each purchase helps further food education in public schools.
CAFFEINE FIX: Hello spring and hello iced caffeine options!!!
Whether iced tea or iced coffee is your go-to, you know that plastic straws quite literally suck. In fact, half a million straws are used globally each day, and they’re tough to recycle (#5 plastic). So, bring your own reusable straw wherever you go, we love Simply Straws!
POST-WORKOUT: Skip the single-use, post-workout plastic water bottles
Healthy hydration is important, but you don’t need to buy bottled water to achieve healthy great-tasting water. Check out the LifeStraw Home and refill your glass or grab a reusable water bottle, ahem the LifeStraw Go, and get filtered water anywhere!
WEEKEND GROCERY HAUL: Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags
Worldwide, up to 1 TRILLION plastic bags are thrown away each year. We recommend one of our favorites, by Baggu.
OTHER COOL RESOURCES FOR LEARNING MORE ABOUT YOUR PLASTIC CONSUMPTION:
• This great calculator: PLASTIC POLLUTION CALCULATOR
• This great toolkit from Earth Day Network’s 2018 Earth Day campaign
• And, this inspiring Tedx talk, for taking further steps to eliminate plastic in your life