It’s the start of a new year and a new decade, which means it’s the perfect time to pick up new habits! This year, start fresh with habits that are good for you and the planet by reducing plastic waste.
The State Of Plastic Pollution
Did you know that the amount of plastic thrown away each year can circle the Earth four times? Americans throw away around 35 billion plastic bottles every year. And, only 9% of recyclable plastic is actually recycled. The rest ends up in the garbage where it eventually goes to landfills or gets dumped into the ocean. There’s no better time to take steps to reduce plastic waste than celebrating a new decade!
So, this year when making your healthy living and budgeting resolutions, add in some resolutions for the environment.
Reducing our plastic-waste is not as difficult as you may think and small changes can make a meaningful impact. You don’t have to be completely zero waste to make a difference.
The Plastic-Free Basics
Let’s start the new year off with the basics. Revisit the Big Four to make four easy changes that can have a large impact in reducing plastic-waste. Switch out plastic water bottles, plastic straws, plastic coffee cups and plastic shopping bags for more sustainable alternatives.
Old Habit: Using plastic water bottles
New Habit: Using reusable water bottles
Did you know that one million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute and 80% of plastic bottles never get recycled? Switching to a reusable water bottle is a great way to start reducing waste. You can find options to swap out those plastic bottles from companies like S’well or Que Bottle.
Old Habit: Using plastic straws
New Habit: Using reusable straws
By the end of this decade, it’s estimated that 8.3 billion plastic straws will have polluted our world’s beaches. There are many different alternatives to plastic straws including metal, glass and silicone. Use whatever works best for you! We’ve found great plastic-free straw options from Terrain and Goop.
Old Habit: Using single-use coffee cups
New Habit: Buying reusable coffee cups
Around 6 billion cups are used for coffee every single year.. If an individual purchases a disposable cup every day, this creates about 23 pounds of waste per year. You may think they’re recyclable, but since most of these cups are lined with plastic, they can be hard to recycle. Plastic coffee cups can be recycled, need to be thoroughly rinsed to be recycled properly, which often doesn’t happen when you’re on the go. You can find great alternatives like KeepCup or Stojo.
Old Habit: Using plastic shopping bags
New Habit: Using reusable shopping bags
Fewer than one in seven plastic bags are actually recycled. It’s also estimated that plastic bags have a 12 minute lifespan. Additionally, most recycling facilities don’t accept softer items, which includes plastic bags. Always check your closest recycling center to get more information. You can swap those out with options like Junes Bags or Baggu.
Beyond The Plastic-Free Basics
If you have the plastic-free basics down, challenge yourself to take the next steps in your journey to reduce plastic waste. Add these new habits to your routine and go into the new decade with less waste.
Old Habit: Throwing out food
New Habit: Learning to compost
Did you know roughly one third of the food produced in the world every year – approximately 1.3 billion tons – gets lost or wasted? Composting can help sustainably dispose of food waste and compost can be used as a natural fertilizer. We have found great indoor compost bin options like Bamboozle or FoodCycler.
Old Habit: Buying plastic-wrapped paper towels
New Habit: Buy reusable paper towels
Every day, over 3,000 tons of waste is produced from paper towels in the US alone. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water is consumed in the making. We have found great alternatives to cut out using single-use paper towels from Package Free Shop or Bambooee.
Old Habit: Shopping fast-fashion brands
New Habit: Shop sustainable brands
The fashion industry generates a lot of waste from textiles that are thrown away to the water that is used to make clothing. Some textiles used by sustainable clothing brands should be made from recyclable, renewable materials like linen, hemp or silk. Think about shopping at sustainable clothing stores as you enter the new year. We have found great places to try like Kotn or Jenni Kayne.
Hopefully this helps you feel confident moving into a new decade with new habits to try to better our planet! Don’t forget, you don’t have to be perfect. Forgetting your reusable water bottle or picking up groceries without your tote bag once or twice, has no measurable impact on these long-term habits you’re working to develop!