A lot of establishments are beginning to ban straws after a viral video surfaced of a straw being removed from the nostril of a sea turtle. However, banning straws is just the start of a much bigger plastic problem. As consumers, we usually don't think twice about the multitude of ways we use disposable plastic products, which is something that needs to change. By making just a few lifestyle changes, you can be on your way to saving the earth from our society's plastic addiction.
1. Swap plastic water bottles for reusable glass or metal bottles.
In the United States, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away every day. These water bottles end up in landfills where they take more than 450 years to decompose. With statistics like these, swapping a plastic bottle for a reusable bottle is a no-brainer.
2. Swap plastic cutlery for bamboo or metal cutlery.
While there is not much you can do about the mass amounts of restaurants that offer plastic cutlery to customers, you can always say no when the products are offered to you. You can find really affordable alternatives on Amazon instead. If carrying around your own forks and knives that you have to take home to wash isn't for you, you can also find edible and compostable cutlery to solve this same problem.
3. Swap plastic wrap for a beeswax alternative.
This is a super easy swap that can actually save you some money in the long run. Beeswax wrap has become increasingly popular and for a good reason. Instead of being a single-use product like plastic wrap, beeswax wrap is a reusable piece of fabric that is coated in beeswax to help mold it to the container you wish to cover. It can be easily cleaned after each use, meaning buying plastic wrap can be a thing of the past.
4. Swap plastic straws for reusable straws.
While there are both advantages and disadvantages to the ban on straws, it has become a starting point for many consumers who were unaware of the consequences of their plastic consumption. If you just can't seem to say no to straws altogether, reusable metal, silicone and glass straws are readily available for a reasonable price. Sure it may seem like a hassle to have to carry around your own straw, but what seems like a small annoyance to you can help make a big difference.
5. Swap plastic toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes.
Have you ever thought about all of the toothbrushes you have used in your life? It's recommended that you replace your toothbrush every three months. Even though a toothbrush seems like such a small thing, over the years the number of toothbrushes thrown away adds up without you ever really thinking about it. The next time you go to replace your toothbrush try a more sustainable alternative instead. Bamboo toothbrushes are one of the most popular options, however, there are also alternatives, like the Bogobrush, made from a compostable bioplastic if a wooden toothbrush isn't something you think you would want to use.
6. Swap plastic shopping bags for reusable bags.
Swapping a plastic grocery bag for a reusable bag is one of the easiest changes you can make. Unless you live in a place like Chicago and California where they charge a bag tax, you may not really think much about all of the plastic bags you are using. So many grocery stores sell reusable bags at the checkout lanes or even offer a discount for using your own bags, making buying and using reusable bags pretty easy and affordable. While it may seem inconvenient at first, the simple switch means that there are less plastic bags floating around in our oceans.
7. Swap plastic produce bags for reusable mesh bags.
Just like grocery bags, there is an alternative to produce bags. They make produce bags in all sizes and colors, making it easy to find a bag that works for you. Plus you don't have to worry about any of the mystery chemicals used to produce the plastic produce bags.
8. Swap plastic food packaging for bulk shopping.
Shopping in bulk isn't one of the easiest things to do. Sometimes it's hard to even find a place that offers bulk shopping, or the idea of bulk shopping may just seem out of your price range. However, some grocery stores offer a bulk section with pretty competitive prices when compared with traditional packaged food. Even if you can't buy everything in bulk, the little that you can is able to make a big difference.
9. Swap plastic snack bags for reusable snack bags.
When I used to pack my lunch for school I was using plastic baggies pretty frequently. While it may seem handy, they are also terrible for the environment. Instead of using the single-use plastic baggies, switch to a fabric snack bag instead. Sure, it's a little more work to clean the bags between usage, but you should feel better knowing you aren't adding another plastic bag into the landfills.
10. Swap makeup removing wipes and for reusable alternatives.
The next time you need to take your makeup off, reach for a reusable makeup round instead of a makeup wipe or cotton round. Typically reusable makeup rounds come in their own little bag that makes cleaning in the laundry a breeze and cuts down on the amount of waste you produce every time you take off your makeup.
11. Swap disposable coffee cups for reusable cups.
As a college student, I drink a lot of coffee. Normally that would mean a lot of plastic and paper cups getting thrown away. However, coffee shops like Starbucks offer incentives to change this. Every time you use your own cup, they offer a $0.10 discount on your drink. Not only are you reducing waste, but you're saving money too, making using your own cup a no-brainer.
12. Swap single-use paper baking cups for reusable silicone cups.
Buying reusable baking cups really isn't any more expensive than the paper cups, but instead of throwing them away each time, you are able to reuse them. If you love to bake but don't love the trash it makes, switching to reusable silicone baking cups is the best thing you can do.
Even if you only choose to make one of the above sustainable changes, you should still feel good about the amount of trash you are saving from ending up in a landfill.