Want to start living a plastic-free lifestyle? We know that getting rid of single-use plastic can be a big lifestyle shift, but we want to help you get started. Eliminating these four items in your daily life are an easy way to begin your plastic-free life: plastic grocery bags, to-go coffee cups, single-use straws and plastic water bottles. These are four small steps you can take to make a big environmental impact.
Plastic Grocery Bags:
Did you know over one trillion plastic grocery bags are used around the world every year? In the U.S. alone it averages that one person uses one plastic bag everyday! These bags are usually used just once and then they are thrown away. They find their way into landfills, they litter the streets or they end up in the ocean. Cutting out plastic grocery bags is an easy first step toward reducing your plastic consumption and using a reusable bag is easier for carrying your groceries! Think of all those times you have had a glass jar or heavy produce to carry home. Plastic bags are not strong enough for most of your grocery shopping, so most times you end up getting more than one. Reusable bags are made from stronger materials and can make grocery shopping easier. The hardest part of cutting out plastic grocery bags is remembering your reusable bags. But once you are in the habit, it’s easy.
Our tips for remembering your reusable bag? Get a bag that folds up so you can always carry it with you in a briefcase, purse or backpack. Keep a canvas bag by the door, so when you are ready to shop you can grab it on your way out. If you forget your reusable bag, not to worry. Most grocery stores sell affordable reusable bags right at the register, so you can always grab one before you check out!
To-Go Coffee Cups:
We all love our morning, afternoon and sometimes, evening coffee. But to-go coffee cups are made from a lot of single-use plastic. The lids are made from plastic, iced drink cups are made from plastic and even the paper cups themselves are sometimes lined with plastic. Think about how many times you have gotten a to-go cup, and then think about how many other people are grabbing to-go cups. That is a lot of plastic. Drink containers are difficult to recycle, especially when you are on the go. Depending on where you are, there might not be a recycling bin that is easily accessible. Even when there is a recycling bin nearby, you usually will not rinse your used coffee cup. Leaving beverage residue in your cup can contaminate an entire bin of recycled goods. Bringing a reusable coffee cup with you is easy and has added benefits beyond reducing plastic waste.
Using an insulated reusable mug keeps your beverages at the right temperature for longer. Your coffee stays hot or it stays iced. You also do not need to worry about burning your hand on the outside of a cup that is too hot or getting your hands wet from condensation, the insulation shields you from any temperature woes. In addition, reusable mugs are better for your morning commute. As long as you get a cup with a lid that fully closes, you do not have to worry about spilling your drink out of the drink spout. Finally, many coffee shops reward you for using your own cup. Sometimes using a reusable cup can save you a little change.
Single-use plastic straws cannot be recycled through normal recycling channels. This means they almost all go into the trash and end up in landfills and the ocean. We already know this can cause harm to our marine life, but just how much harm? Over 500 million plastic straws are used in the U.S. every single day, contributing a significant portion of our plastic waste. If you switch to a reusable coffee cup, you might be able to ditch the straw all-together. But we know that many people like straws or rely on straws to eat and drink. There are many alternatives to single-use plastic straws to explore. Some of our favorite plastic straw alternatives are metal straws, glass straws, paper straws and silicone straws. Metal and glass straws are more rigid and can usually be cleaned with a straw cleaner or in the dishwasher. Paper straws are not reusable, but they are compostable. Finally, silicone straws are a great flexible alternative, they still bend like a plastic straw, but are more durable and can be reused. You can usually find straws that come in sets of three or more, or come with a carrying case, so it’s easy to keep your straw with you at all times.
Plastic Water Bottles
Switching to a reusable plastic water bottle has a ton of benefits! One million plastic water bottles are purchased every minute. That is a big waste of plastic and money. Switching to a reusable plastic water bottle can save you a lot of money, at least $1.50 per bottle, but also get rid of a lot of single use plastic. Reusable, BPA-free bottles are also safer than plastic water bottles. If we buy a plastic water bottle, our instinct is to refill it after one use. However, that is not actually the safest option. Many single-use plastic water bottles are made with chemicals like BPA, which can leach into your water over time. Refilling single-use plastic bottles might seem like a good idea but can do more harm than good. Getting a reusable water bottle is very convenient and safe. Reusable bottles are usually BPA-free so you do not run the risk of chemicals leaching into your water. Additionally, if you have a reusable water bottle, you can always fill it up, and you do not have to pay for it.
Making these four easy changes can jumpstart your plastic free journey and make your everyday much easier! Are you willing to give it a try?