4 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Use

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4 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Use

 

You might not think using plastic is a big deal. We'd agree with you if the use was limited to VERY occasionally. Unfortunately, many people use far too much plastic, and they use it in dangerous ways.  

 

While we still don’t fully understand the full extent of plastic on our environment and our health, here are a few things we DO know.

 

PLASTIC IN OUR BODIES

We know our bodies absorb the chemicals used to create plastic, as a result, there is an endless potential of negative effects on our health. As the Daily Mail shared, a recent study by the University of Exeter found that these chemicals affect reproductive health and development, and increase the risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes*.

 

According to Healthline, “Due to its estrogen-like shape, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors and influence bodily processes, such as growth, cell repair, fetal development, energy levels and reproduction.” Although some manufacturers now use other chemicals in place of BPA’s, there is no evidence that these replacement chemicals are any less toxic.   

 

mass market production of plastic pop bottles with yellow plastic lids

 

PLASTIC IN THE ENVIRONMENT

Despite the impression that many plastics are recyclable, National Geographic recently reported that over 90% of plastic in the U.S. is never recycled.

 

Plastic does not break down like other recyclable materials when it reaches the garbage dump. It lives on, and the chemicals that make up plastic leech into the earth and further contaminate our groundwater.  Plastic that does not reach the landfill is unleashed on the environment with dire consequences. Animals often suffer as they ingest plastic or get physically trapped by it, and, as we’ve seen in recent news, the plastic floating around our oceans is piling up.

 

drawing of green turtle trying to swim with a grocery store plastic bag caught around its leg

 

The facts about plastic may be scary, but the good news is that cutting your plastic use can be easy! Here are 4 simple ways to get you started… we’re betting you are doing at least one of these already!

 

 
Use reusable shopping bags for ALL your shopping.
 

Cloth shopping bags are not just for groceries! Keep a few reusable bags in your car and start using them for all of your purchases. Whether you’re picking up a bottle of wine for dinner or picking up a gift for a birthday party, every time you bring your own bag you send a message that plastic bags are not necessary.

beige reusable cotton tote on a wooden board walk near the beach

 

 
Say no to plastic straws! 
  
Carrying a reusable glass or stainless steel straw in your bag is a super simple way to start cutting your plastic use. Anytime you purchase a beverage that needs a straw, just pull out your reusable one and you’ve prevented one more plastic straw from reaching the landfills! Better yet, carry your own drinking jar and straw for even less waste on the go. Which leads us to tip #3…
  
mason jar filled with bent silver stainless steel reusable strawsborosilicate glass reusable straws
 
 
Bring your own cup.
 
You can easily replace a paper coffee cup and a toxic plastic water bottle by having a reusable thermos or drinking jar on hand. You won’t only save cups from hitting the trash, we’re betting that you’ll find the taste of your beverage is much improved when you drink from glass instead of paper or plastic!
BONUS: You’ll save money by refilling your drinking jar at a water fountain, and some stores will even give you a discount on your purchase for bringing a reusable cup.
 
reusable glass tumbler with bright green and black don't be trashy design and black and white striped reusable straw
 
  
Buy bulk.
 
Avoid the pre-portioned plastic encased veggies and fruit and buy loose produce (bring your own bags or jars of course!). Buying bulk spices, nuts, chocolates, etc also reduces the amount of packaging going in the trash.  Jars are great for storing bulk items at home, anything from honey, spices, cereal, snacks, crackers, flour, and even laundry detergent can fit and be easily labeled.
 
huge selection of fresh potatoes on a grocery store shelf

 

#plasticisbad

Plastic isn’t just something we find in packaging, its also used in products such as facial cleansers and toothpaste. The good news is that there are many accessible small shops that are providing plastic-free alternatives, and you can even DIY some of these products!

 

Cutting your plastic use doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. Choose just one or two of these simple ideas and start today! Share your journey on Instagram with #plasticisbad.

 

Want to take it further?

Here are some other ways to cut plastic from your life:

10 Life Hacks to Help You Cut Plastic Out of the Picture

10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Tips to Use Less Plastic

 

Want to know more about the effects of plastic?

Sources and further reading on the effects of plastic:

Phthalates and Other Additives in Plastics: Human Exposure and Associated Health Outcomes

The Environmental Toll of Plastics

Six Reasons Why Plastic Is Bad for the Environment

What is BPA and Why is it Bad for You?

Gender-bending Chemicals Found in Plastic and Linked to Breast and Prostate Cancer are Found in 86% of Teenagers' Bodies

A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn't Recycled

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