6 Small Things We Can Do to Reduce Single Use Plastic Waste & Keep it Out of our Oceans!

Single use plastics are destroying our oceans.  We have become a society that is dependent on easy to use products that are terrible for the environment.  Many of these items are literally turning into islands of garbage in our oceans.

I am including some graphic videos that show the destruction in a very real way.   Just like Global Warming…….Plastic Pollution is Real people!

 

 

I want there to be clean drinking water for my kids and their kids and their kids kids. It sickens me to see the amount of garbage ending up in our oceans choking out the oxygen and physically endangering the sea life.  Add that to oil spills and the algae blooms caused by fertilizer run off and we are rapidly destroying our oceans.

Some people may be able to play dumb or shrug their shoulders and ignore this problem, but I cannot.  I know that I alone cant solve this issue, but I can do SOMETHING.  Even doing just a few small things can help to slow down the rate of destruction to the ocean.  Here are a few fairly easy things I am doing to do my part.

HERE IS WHAT I HAVE FOUND THAT I CAN DO:

ELIMINATE PLASTIC STRAWS

If you can’t do without straws at home, you have options.  Either use paper straws or reusable plastic or metal straws.  Most reusable sets come with 3-5 straws and a cleaning brush.  Reusable straws run about $5 a pack while paper straws are often only $1 a pack.  A small price to pay to help save our oceans.

This is one of the first big causes that I have ever seen my husband get worked up about.  One day he says to me (very distressed) “have you seen what a straw can do to a sea turtle?”  So we have worked together to find a way to eliminate most plastic of the straws from our life.

Remember when dining out to tell the waitress you prefer no straw when she is taking your drink order, otherwise one may already be in your beverage when it arrives. 

I even bought my husband a portable reusable straw that comes in a case that fits right in his pocket. 

 

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Reusable Straw Set

AVOID BOTTLED WATER

Instead of grabbing a bottle of water every day for my lunch I use a reusable Insulated Tumbler.  Reducing just 5 single use bottles per week equals 260 bottles per year.  If you do have to use a plastic water bottle, make sure to recycle it.

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Reusable Insulated Tumbler

For hitting the trail for a hike or heading to the gym, invest in a good quality reusable water bottle.  They work great at the airport too since most of them now offer “water bottle refilling stations.”  Just remember to take it empty and fill it after you pass through the Security check points.

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Refillable Glass Water Bottle

 

 

 

 

REPLACE PLASTIC SILVERWARE

I found myself using single use plastic silverware daily for meals at work.  A quick stop at the Dollar Store for a metal set to keep at my desk easily solved that problem.  I just wash them in the break room or take them home at night.  This small step reduces plastic silverware waste by about 8 pieces a week or over 400 pieces per year.

 

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LIMIT PLASTIC BAGGIES

I used to go through boxes and boxes of plastic baggies for packing lunches and food storage.  Now a box lasts me months.  I rarely ever use them.  Instead, I have purchased a lot of different sizes of reusable plastic containers.  Some for storing food in the refrigerator and others for packing lunches into.  Between my husband and I we probably used 15 baggies a week before.  Switching to reusable containers has prevented around 800 baggies a year from being thrown away.

 

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Reusable Plastic Containers

 

USE REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

Invest in 5 sturdy reusable shopping bags to use at the grocery store instead of plastic bags.  They only cost about $1, you can pack more items in them, they are more sturdy and last a long time.  If you forget your reusable bag, opt for a paper bag which is easier to recycle.

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Reusable Grocery Bag

TRY HARDER TO RECYCLE

This one is the most difficult for me because their isn’t an EASY solution.  We all like things to be simple if we are going to be compliant.  But every community is different about how they handle recycling.

When I lived in North Carolina, my water, sewer and garbage were all one bill to the city and it included recycling.  Where we have lived the last 20 years or so in Michigan, if you want to recycle, you are on your own.  Several places that once offered recycling have stopped doing so and glass recycling has become especially difficult in our community.  You have to be really on top of where and when you can take things in order to be successful with recycling.

To make it a bit easier, I keep a recycling container in my kitchen.  I only put clean items into it.  On house chore day, I sort it by type into bigger bags/boxes that I have marked by category in the basement.  We have found a Recycling program in our community that costs $2 per visit and is open only on the first Saturday of each month.  To further simplify it, and since we don’t have a lot to take, we just drop off our recyclables quarterly.

Items we recycle:

  1. Plastics
  2. Newspapers
  3. Plastic Bags
  4. Cardboard packaging
  5. Glass

We even have a large reclosable coffee canister that we save used batteries in.  When it gets full, we turn them in.  Most communities have Hazardous Materials take back days where they will accept paints, batteries, and other harder to recycle products.  Just keep your eye out for local notices.  Our energy provider often offers $50 credits if you let them come to your house and haul off your old refrigerator.  This saves you from having to  haul it away, paying for a disposal fee and puts a little cash in your pocket.  Win win!

 

Pledge to do it then stick to it!

National Geographic Planet or Plastic Challenge

It is all of our responsibility to stop adding to this problem and become part of a global Solution.  I challenge you to find a few small ways to reduce single use plastics in YOUR day to day life. I think you will find them to be pretty easy and not at all expensive.

If everyone does a little, it will help a lot!