Just over 137 million tons of waste was sent to the landfill in 2015. Of this waste, 19 percent was plastic.
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A Plastic Wasteland
We are constantly creating new plastic items, but we rarely reuse or recycle these items. The United States recycles less than 10 percent of all plastic goods (a.k.a. a LOT of plastic goes straight to the landfill, into the water or nature). But solving our massive waste issue is a huge task, something we definitely need to put our heads together to solve, but you can reduce your waste by adopting a few changes to your life.
I recently stumbled upon an environmentalist, Lauren Singer, who spoke about her zero-waste lifestyle in a TEDx talk. She put down a single mason jar on a nearby table - this was all the trash she had created in the last couple of years. Years? Yep, she graduated from college and began her busy life in New York City while only producing a few pieces of trash. This sounded completely unattainable until I read more about her journey and simple waste-free products on her blog, Trash is for Tossers.
After reading about her life, I decided there were a few simples steps I could make to reduce the waste I create. Nothing drastic, just a couple changes in my daily routine that could make a big impact on my environmental footprint left on this world.
I think we are often raised to ignore the trash we create - it goes into a bin and is forgotten about. Where does this trash go? What can happen if this trash isn't taken care of properly? We can be better at reducing our waste and becoming more proactive about recycling. With these lifestyle changes, you may save more time, money and worry about the trash you create.
1. Use reusable bags.
Plastic bags are everywhere: at the grocery store, in every mall and in your home.
There is a simple solution to reducing our plastic bag waste - use reusable bags! These bags are often extremely cheap and made of eco-friendly materials. Keep a few bags with you in your car or purse to have at hand. When you're at a restaurant and they offer a plastic bag for your leftovers, just say no!
Many plastic bags are useless - rarely used for a very important purpose. When purchasing fresh fruit or veggies, opt for a small sack or netted bag in place of the plastic fresh bags. Buy your groceries at bulk-food stores when you can, so you can fill up your own containers!
2. Replace your toothbrush.
Toothbrushes are items we use and toss - lasting maybe a month. By switching out your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo brush, you can save time and money. These toothbrushes are durable and completely recyclable! Lauren Singer's company, Package Free, sells a bamboo toothbrush for only $4.99!
Brush with Bamboo is another affordable brand.
3. Choose glass over plastic.
Mason jars are already on trend, so jump on full force! Use glass jars or cups for drinking glasses, storage containers and food containers. Glass is easy to clean and readily available. Unlike some plastic items, glass is multi-purpose and extremely durable to protect food, valuables, etc. Around 80 percent of recycled glass can be reclaimed and reused for additional purposes.
4. Make your own products.
When you walk down the beauty aisle, what do you see? Plastic containers for practically everything. Beauty products are difficult to find without packaging, so make your own! When you make your own products, you can control what goes into them. This blog post is the master list for everything DIY beauty and makeup, so you don't have to make up your own recipes right away.
5. Shop second-hand.
Fast fashion is a fast way to destroy the planet and negatively impact many workers' lives. By shopping second hand, you are using the clothes that are already in the cycle, so there is less production and manufacturing waste overall. Arden Rose, a Youtuber who creates lifestyle videos, dives into her own shopping habit. She also gives some great suggestions for second-hand stores and sustainable fashion companies.
Let's save our planet - one less piece of waste at a time!