Every year, we go through the New Year with the pressure of trying to discover one’s self and worth. We agonize over it. We argue over it. And in the end, most people give it up before the next drop of the ball.
But this year, do something different. Make your new year one that helps the planet and builds toward a better future. There are countless ways to do that but this year, let us focus on reducing plastic usage.
Plastic is cheap and incredibly versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these qualities have also resulted in it becoming an environmental issue. We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.
We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
So what are we going to do? Simply refuse it. And here is how you can do that.
1. Eat Smarter
Plan your day ahead of time what you will eat and ensure that any roadbumps will not change your lifestyle.
Fast-food chains are notorious for creating an unreal amount of waste. We all have the urge to get a quick-something here or there but avoid all the excess take-out containers by stopping inside to get your food asking the restaurants not to use the extra bag or container.
Quit throwing your food leftovers in plastic containers —instead save money and cut your empty calories by packing your lunch in To-Go Ware’s stainless steel food carriers. The lid can doubles as a plate, and lunchtime might start feeling like a sophisticated picnic.
2. Reduce your disposable plastics
Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions. It only takes a few times of bringing your own bags to the store, silverware to the office, or travel mug to Starbucks before it becomes habit.
3. Ditch single-use bags
“Bring your own bag” is becoming the norm, especially since several cities and states passed bans on single-use plastic bags. Hundreds of millions of these bad actors end up in our oceans and waterways, harming marine life and costing US cities and taxpayers money.
Start refusing single-use bags, and instead buy a few reusable bagsnull
4. Stop buying water
Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag, and you’ll never be caught having to resort to a Poland Spring or Evian again. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.
5. Carry a stainless steel straw everywhere you go
Our society has become addicted to using plastic straws and that needs to change. The good news, that does not mean we have to stop using straws altogether.
Purchase yourself a pack of stainless steel straws and bring them with you everywhere you go. Before you know it, you will have saved hundreds of plastic straws from ending up in our landfills and oceans.
6. Boycott microbeads
Those little plastic scrubbers found in so many beauty products—facial scrubs, toothpaste, body washes—might look harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants. Unfortunately, they also look just like food to some marine animals. Opt for products with natural exfoliants, like oatmeal or salt, instead.
7. Get to know bamboo
Products made from sustainably-sourced bamboo can be a great alternative to plastic throw-aways and wood products made from old-growth forests. Bamboo grows at unbelievable rate allowing for quick reproduction of forest thats are used for the products. The best part, they look great also!
8. Cook more.
Not only is it healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you do order in or eat out, tell the establishment you don’t need any plastic cutlery or, for some serious extra credit, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.
9. The 4th “R”: Refuse
Reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse! Start the year off by saying “No, thank you.” By saying no to that red solo cup or that straw that every fast food chain tries to push your way, you are creating a lifestyle that becomes more simplistic.
10. Set a No-Buy goal, and stick to it
Whether you’re looking to save money, get healthy, or reduce your plastic footprint, there is always a way to live the “less is more” lifestyle. Most of the environmental impacts associated with nearly every product happen in the materials acquisition and manufacturing stage, so deciding not to buy a product means you’re helping avoid the impacts of producing that item in the first place.
We want to challenge you to creating a better lifestyle that helps protect the planet. Set a goal and aim to stick with it through the whole year!