As of this year, around 320,000,000 metric tons of plastic are manufactured annually by humans. Everyday items such as grocery bags, takeout containers, and water bottles are all made of plastic. More specifically, each year we produce approximately one billion plastic shopping bags or around 100 bags for every person on the planet. In spite of plastic’s usefulness, the material’s overuse has led to a worldwide catastrophe that calls for intervention. Humans have produced nearly as much plastic in the past decade as in the preceding century, according to a new report from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO). More plastic than fish will occupy the world’s waters by 2050 if current trends continue. Nonetheless, we can still make changes to our strategy before it’s too late.
These are 5 simple things you can do to reduce your own personal use of plastic:
#1. Bring your own bags when shopping or running errands.
More than a trillion plastic bags are made each year. These bags are not biodegradable and cause serious environmental damage when they wind up in waterways or landfills. Sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and seabirds are among the species impacted. The bags are fatal to the young birds because the birds think they are tiny jellyfish. Around one-third of Mediterranean Sea fish collected are found to have plastic debris in their digestive systems.
The single most effective thing you can do is to bring your own reusable shopping bags whenever you go shopping. There will be far less trash floating about in the seas and piling up in our landfills. Due to the high cost of plastic bag production, several establishments have begun charging customers for the bags they provide. A number of retailers, including IKEA, Aldi, and Lidl, have already begun charging consumers a small cost for plastic bags in an effort to reduce their customers’ reliance on them.
#2. Ditch the coffee cup and use a travel mug.
There are around 100 billion paper cups produced annually, with the majority being thrown away after a single use. When we consider the resources expended in making paper cups and the fact that they cannot be recycled, we see that this poses a serious environmental risk. Coffee cups are often made of a non-recyclable combination of paper and polyethylene terephthalate and are not intended for reuse (PET).
These cups take a long time to decompose in landfills, making them a hazard to local communities for quite some time. Thankfully, there are a plethora of eco-friendly, long-lasting, and reusable coffee mugs available today. For individuals who prefer not to use disposable items and would like a mug that will last a long time, stainless steel is a great material to use.
#3. Buy in bulk to reduce plastic packaging.
Large plastic bags are commonly used to package dry goods including nuts, beans, cereals, and spices. Milk and other beverages are among the many products sold in plastic bottles. Since the individually wrapped variety is more cost-effective, many individuals avoid purchasing these goods in bulk. However, most of the time, the plastic containers and containers that these goods come in are discarded in landfills. This is true even if the package itself is recyclable.
Rather than purchasing these products in individual plastic bags, stock up on bulk quantities instead. Both beans and spices can be purchased in bulk bags and jars, respectively. Acquire a large number of nuts and store them in a jar you can reuse. You can save space in your fridge by purchasing milk in a larger container. Saving money and helping the environment by avoiding plastic packaging is a win-win.
#4. Only buy what you need and avoid excess packaging.
The use of plastic bags for the sale of certain commodities is widespread. To avoid this, make sure you’re not buying more supplies than you’ll actually use. Paper goods including tissue paper, paper towels, and paper napkins are frequently sold in plastic packaging. Don’t buy them in plastic if you can help it, and look for paper alternatives instead. Find non-plastic, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.
#5. Change your habits: be mindful of your consumption.
Humanity has made an unsustainable choice, yet there is still time to correct the situation. The first step toward reducing your own plastic consumption is becoming aware of your own habits and the motivations behind them. Do you routinely buy this item because you need it, or is it more of a habit? When you shop, do you take along your own bags? You may do your part to save the earth by reducing your own personal use of plastic in any or all of these methods. You need to become self-aware before you can make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle that will make it more sustainable. It will be a lengthy process, but well worth it in the end.