According to Forbes.com, humans across the globe buy one MILLION plastic bottles every single minute! Even worse, only an estimated 9% of these plastic bottles end up being recycled. Help to reduce plastic bottle waste by committing to a reusable bottle. There are so many different reusable water bottles and coffee mugs on the market now, there’s no reason not to use one! In fact, many coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own cup. It’s a win-win!
Buying local, especially produce, can reduce shipping and packaging waste; it is also often a better quality product and supports the local economy! Shop at local businesses and farmer’s markets when you can and consider finding consistent local sources for things like eggs and milk.
Biking places instead of driving is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Bikes are a pollution-free mode of transportation and use significantly fewer resources to build than automobiles. Biking is also good for your health and your wallet: it burns calories while saving money that would otherwise be spent on fuel. If you have the ability to bike instead of drive, give it a try!
Carpooling is another good way to reduce pollution. Consider carpooling with friends to work or school, or use a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft to get you and your friends where you need to go. This way, you’ll cut back on greenhouse gas emissions AND you won’t have to worry about finding parking!
By 2050, scientists believe the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish. Fish themselves are often found with plastic in their stomachs, and an estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have ingested plastic after mistaking it for food. Disposable straws are a big contributor to the issue, as most cannot be recycled and thus end up in the garbage and eventually the ocean. We can help reduce plastic waste in the ocean by asking for no straw in our drinks when eating out. For times when a straw is necessary, there are plastic alternatives available; including paper straws, compostable straws and reusable straws, like those made from stainless steel. (For more information about the plastic straw epidemic in our oceans, visit strawlessocean.org)
Before you toss that piece of paper, plastic bottle or soda can, consider whether you can recycle it first. Many public places and restaurants have recycling receptacles available for different kinds of materials. If you don’t have easy access to a recycling bin, designate a bag or bin in your car for things to recycle later. Cities across the US are making recycling more accessible by providing residents with curbside bins for their recyclables. Designated recycling locations are also common. If recycling isn’t accessible where you live, consider reusing items like plastic cutlery or re-purposing glass bottles or jars. You’d be surprised by how many things you can do with them!
We all have it: the big bag under the sink or in the pantry that holds all the plastic grocery bags we’ve collected over the years. In fact, the average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic bags each year! Fewer than one in seven of these plastic bags are recycled; and, like straws, end up in the ocean where they wreak havoc on sea life. To reduce plastic bag waste, try keeping several reusable bags or totes in your car. That way, you’ll always have them on hand for your next trip to the store. Not only are reusable bags eco-friendly, they also hold more items and will cut your trips back to the car for bags in half! You can also recycle the plastic bags you do have–many big-box stores and grocery chains have designated places within stores where you can recycle your plastic bags.
Packaging is a huge filler of landfills across the country, especially when it comes to items households we tend to use and toss out every week like milk jugs and egg cartons. Luckily, many stores now offer customers the option to buy products in bulk. You can fill containers with things like rice, pasta, beans, flour, coffee, honey, olive oil, nuts, etc. You pay by weight, which saves you tons of money and creates less packaging waste. Some stores even allow you to bring your own reusable containers! Buying in bulk will also save you trips to the store, which means you’ll use less gas if you drive there.
Paper makes up at least 25% of our landfill waste in the US, and it takes twice as much energy as plastic to produce. Pay your bills online whenever possible and go paperless with paycheck stubs, bank and insurance statements by having them sent to your email instead. Recycle the bills and other papers you do receive and tell your friends and family to do the same–this will cut back significantly on paper waste!