5 Ideas for Using Less Plastic

Disposable plastic is quickly becoming a huge problem for the planet. According to the activist group Ocean Conservancy, as much as 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year.

I wasn’t sure what that number meant exactly, so I researched a bit more to put the statistics into perspective. A metric ton is equal to 2,205 pounds. Multiply that by 8 million! That gave me a better idea of the huge amount of plastic flowing into the ocean.

Besides being unsightly, plastic is also harming sea life who mistake it for food. The Ocean Conservancy reports that 100% of sea turtles and 60% of sea birds have some sort of plastic in their stomachs. It’s clear that the overuse of plastic is wreaking havoc on the natural world.

These statistics aren’t easy to read, but even in the midst of bad news, I think it’s very important to stay positive and look to find solutions. Luckily, there are a ton of innovative products out there to tackle this problem.

In this post, I’ve compiled a brief list of ideas and reusable products that can help keep plastic out of our oceans.

Use a Bamboo Toothbrush

I bought my first bamboo toothbrush earlier this year! They were so cheap (only about $1.00 each on Overstock.com) that I purchased about ten of them. A bamboo toothbrush can easily replace your plastic toothbrush. The bristles are so soft that you may wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

Why choose bamboo? Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth, replacing itself in only 2 years. It’s super strong (its tensile strength is close to steel’s) and it’s naturally resistant to pests, so no harsh fertilizers or pesticides are required to grow it.

Unlike plastic, bamboo will eventually decompose. This makes it a wonderful alternative to an item that needs to be replaced regularly (like a toothbrush).

Try a Reusable Coffee Mug

I guarantee that once you find a favorite reusable mug, there’s no going back to a disposable one.

The Thermos Sipp Mug is my personal favorite. I bought mine about seven years ago and I’m still using it to this day. I love this mug because it keeps drinks cold for 9 hours, drinks hot for 5 hours, does not leak, and fits perfectly in my car cup holder.

If you frequent a local coffee shop, check and see if they are running any discounts or promotions for bringing your own mug. The cafe at my work gives you 50% off! Another perk of being eco-friendly is that it can save you quite a bit of money.

A photo shoot with my Earth Junky produce bags.

BYO Reusable Produce & Grocery Bags

It takes time and persistence to make a habit out of bringing your own grocery bags. I keep mine handy in my pantry, so when I’m taking a quick inventory before I run to the store, I see them and grab them. I’m currently using an assortment of random Aldi and Giant Eagle bags, but there are a ton of trendy options to choose from, especially online.

In addition to my reusable grocery bags, I recently started bringing my own produce bags to the store, too. Mine are the “Earth Junky” brand and I bought them on Amazon for about $12.00. To cut down on unnecessary plastic in my kitchen, I try to buy my produce unwrapped whenever possible.

Buying unwrapped produce (unlike this pepper) is a great way to cut down on plastic waste.

Store in a Stasher

I don’t have any of these bags yet, but they are definitely on my wish list.

Stasher bags are really cool because they are made out of durable silicone and can be used for hot or cold foods. They can even be used in the oven! Also, unlike plastic, Stasher bags don’t leach harmful chemicals into your food. These bags can be used again and again. They’re also great for non-food items such as craft supplies, crayons and small toys.

Sip Through a Glass Straw

Drinking straws are one of the most common sources of disposable plastic. Luckily, there are many wonderful alternatives on the market today, including straws made of stainless steel, glass and even bamboo. Most reusable straw packs come with a brush for easy cleaning, too. I have a glass straw and several stainless steel straws. I don’t miss the plastic ones at all.

I believe we can all make a difference in the health of our planet. Incorportating small changes into your daily routine can amount to huge results!

For further reading about this topic, be sure to check out:

The Ocean Conservancy

Plastic Free July Campaign

Ocean Cleanup Project

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