In honor of Plastic Free July, I've put together a list of 5 super easy things you can do to reduce the amount of plastic in your life. Refusing single use plastic is a great way to challenge yourself to live a more sustainable lifestyle and help the planet at the same time. Of course, the best way to reduce plastic pollution is to refuse, rethink and reduce what we consume.
Let's get started with some eye-opening facts first:
- Scientists estimate that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.
- We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes; utilized for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred or even thousands of years.
- Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs.
- More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
If you're like me, you'll need to pick your jaw up off the floor before you read on to see what we can all start doing to help.
Tip #1: Ditch the plastic bottles and throwaway coffee cups and switch to reusable cups & bottles
Over 57 billion plastic water bottles were sold in the U.S. alone back in 2014 and that number has sadly increased. Not to mention, the process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container itself. Crazy, right?
By purchasing (and using) a reusable bottle and/or cup you're not only helping to save our planet, oceans and marine life but also water, which is in short supply in many places. *Bonus - a lot of cafes offer a discount when you bring in your own cup! It's a win-win-win-win :)
Tip #2: Bring your own reusable bags when you shop
Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute!
The reusable bag should be your best friend and shopping companion always. It may take a little while to get used to bringing one with you every time you shop but trust me, soon it will be second nature. To make it easier to remember, keep one in your handbag and in your car and have backups for your backups. They are usually pretty inexpensive to purchase and will last you a while so having more than one should be doable and will definitely make it easier for you to transition away from the plastic bags.
Tip #3: Replace your plastic food wrap with a reusable, more eco-friendly option
The first two tips are ones you've probably heard a million times but this one is a little less talked about but equally important.
Difficult to recycle, when plastic wrap ends up in our oceans it breaks down into microplastics and is often digested by marine life. Also, as with all plastic it takes hundreds, if not thousands of years to break down.
A great alternative is reusable food wrap made with fabric and beeswax. This option is also better for your health because it's all natural and free of potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in plastics. If you're feeling crafty you can always try making these yourself, or you can purchase ones already made and ready to go.
Tip #4: Choose plastic free, reusable options like stainless containers and straws, bamboo cutlery and reusable food carriers for work, school and on-the-go
Somewhat related to Tip #3, replacing your plastic sandwich bags, containers, straws and cutlery has a huge impact on reducing the amount of plastics in our environment.
Did you know that a study published in 2019 estimated that as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world's beaches? This is not only tragic for the environment but also for the marine life who mistake these items for food and sadly lose their lives trying to digest them.
Luckily there are many reusable, sustainable, eco-friendly options out there to replace all of these items with that are great quality and super cute.
Tip #5: Choose brands that turn plastic waste into beautiful new products
Unfortunately there is already tons of plastic (literally) out there in landfills and in our oceans but there are also now a lot of brands taking that plastic, recycling or regenerating it and turning it into something beautiful.
Brands such as Vitamin A Swimwear, (carried here at Pōedik) use a fabric that they created called EcoLux which is a premium swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibers.
You can also find brands such as Free Flow Active making a collection of beautiful active wear for women and men using Econyl - regenerated nylon from ocean and other waste materials. https://freeflowactive.com/
Those are just a couple but once you start looking, you'll find that there are quite a few options out there of brands using fabrics made from recycled plastics. Just be careful because there are also brands that are "green-washing" and only using a small percentage of recycled material mixed with a larger percentage of regular manufactured synthetic fibers but still claiming to be eco-friendly.