Single use plastic items are convenient, cheap and a huge part of the plastic waste problem punishing the environment. More than 8 billion kilos of plastic ends up in waterways around the world each year. A large amount of this has accumulated in an enormous garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean that’s 3 times the size of France and the rate of plastic pollution is predicted to double by 2030.
The plastic problem can feel overwhelming. You might be thinking “8 billion kilos. How can I possibly make a difference?” but with almost 8 billion people on the planet if we all play even a small part we can change things for the better.
You can help turn things around with these 6 simple, eco-friendly swaps to reduce the amount of single use plastic items you have at home.
1. Ditch plastic sandwich bags
Small, single use plastic sandwich bags are a part of the gargantuan plastic waste problem.
Recycling plastic sandwich bags is an option but not everyone is prepared to rinse and dry them after every use. Reusable silicone food bags, tupperware containers or wax wraps are a more eco-friendly choice for lunches or school snacks.
2. Purchase loose fruit and vegetables
In Australia, only 14 percent of plastic is recovered for recycling or energy and the majority of plastic waste is packaging.
In 2018, major Australian supermarkets banned single-use lightweight plastic bags but many fresh fruits and vegetables are still sold in plastic packaging. It’s a simple swap to buy them loose instead of pre-packed and try to avoid the plastic bags for smaller items by replacing them with paper mushroom bags where need be.
3. Invest in a BPA free reusable water bottle
A big single use plastic culprit is the plastic water bottle. Reusing bottles for days at a time isn’t a healthy idea; they become a haven for bacteria and chemicals, including BPA, seep from the plastic into the water.
A better choice for your body and the environment is keeping a quality reusable water bottle on hand.
4. Swap single use plastic straws for reusable straws
Make an eco-friendly upgrade to your beverages by ditching plastic, petroleum-derived straws for reusable ones.
Both metal and bamboo reusable straws are popular options. Metal ones are perfect for smoothies and usually come with their own cleaning brushes. Bamboo straws are biodegradable and do break down eventually, unlike plastic ones.
5. Cotton buds
It’s pretty safe to say most of us have heard of the waste caused by single use plastic coffee cups, but cotton buds? Plastic stemmed cotton buds are only small but can harm fish, birds, and animals and have even been found in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles. Look for cotton bud products with stems made of paper or bamboo instead.
6. Plastic Cutlery
Planning a trip to Paris? Don’t forget your own knife, fork, and spoon. France was the first country to ban plastic cutlery and quitting plastic cutlery is an easy change anyone can make. Tuck a portable cutlery set or a spork into your bag or backpack whenever you’re on the go.
Every single use plastic items we use has an environmental cost. We hope this list has inspired you to curb your convenience habit and make some simple changes to reduce the plastic products at home. What item on the list will you start with?
Written by: Elesha Piper