If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in reducing your reliance on single-use plastics. Maybe you’ve seen the devastating pictures of turtles with straws up their noses or birds with bellies full of plastic, and you’re ready to make a change.
Maybe you’ve been wanting to reduce your carbon footprint but didn’t know where to start. Or perhaps you’re just tired of feeling like every time you step into the grocery store, all your hard-earned money goes straight into the pockets of the big plastic companies.
Whatever your reason, going ‘zero waste is a great way to live a more sustainable life and help reduce the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans and landfills. Here are 15 tips to get you started on your zero-waste journey:
Reducing single-plastic use
- Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.
- Bring a reusable water bottle with you when you leave the house so you don’t have to buy bottled water when you’re out and about.
- Bring a set of reusable utensils with you when you know you’ll be eating out so you can avoid using disposable chopsticks, forks, and spoons.
- Invest in a reusable coffee mug or thermos to avoid using disposable coffee cups when you get your morning fix.
- Say no to straws! If you really need to use a straw, invest in a reusable metal or glass straw that can be used repeatedly.
- When ordering takeout, say no to styrofoam boxes and plastic utensils—ask for your food to be packed in paper bags instead.
- Make an effort to buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of packaged snacks that come wrapped in plastic film.
- Buy meat and fish from the butcher counter instead of the pre-packaged section at the grocery store.
- Avoid buying items like toys, clothes, books, etc., wrapped in plastic packaging—look for second-hand options instead.
- If possible, avoid purchasing items that come individually wrapped in plastic, like candy bars or single-serve yogurt cups—look for larger bulk sizes that can be repackaged at home.
- Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap that comes in a plastic pump bottle—you can even find bar soap packaged in recycled paper rather than plastic wrap!
- Opt for loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags, which often come wrapped in plastic or contain microplastics that can end up in our waterways when disposed of improperly.
- Buy shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc., in refillable/recyclable containers rather than disposable bottles made from virgin plastic
- Look for products made from sustainable materials like bamboo or bamboo-derived rayon instead of products made from conventional plastics like polyester or nylon whenever possible
- Support small businesses and companies making Eco-friendly products.
The problem with single-use plastics
Single-use plastics are an environmental nightmare. They clog up landfills and pollute the oceans. In fact, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
Research studies have shown that a staggering 91% of plastics are not recycled. Even more alarming, 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. This has a devastating effect on marine life, and it is conservatively estimated that 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic pollution each year.
As if that weren’t enough, single-use plastics also release harmful chemicals into the environment when they break down. These chemicals can cause problems for both humans and animals.
So, next time you reach for a straw or a plastic bag, remember the environmental damage they can cause. Choose reusable alternatives instead to help reduce pollution on land and in our oceans.
Making the switch to sustainable alternatives doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing—every little bit counts! Try implementing one or two of these tips into your daily routine and see how easy it is to start living a more ‘zero waste lifestyle today 🙂