How Plastic Pollution Impacts You
It can be scary to realize the plastic products we use every day may not be as safe for us as they seem. Plastics contain toxins that are hazardous to human health. Harmful chemicals like flame retardants and pesticide treatments are often used on plastic materials that we come in contact with every day. Plastics also contain endocrine disruptors (like BPA) that can increase the risk of contracting severe diseases, like cancer and hormonal disorders.
It’s no secret that plastics have a negative effect on the planet’s ecosystems, as well. For example, the influx of plastic pollution in our marine environments has disrupted the marine food chain that millions of people across the world rely on for food.
Everybody is impacted by the increasing use of plastics. Luckily, we can all take small steps to reduce plastic use in our everyday lives.
4 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Daily Plastic Use
Reducing your use of plastics at home is one of the simplest—and most impactful—steps you can take toward lessening plastic pollution. All you need to do is evaluate your daily routine and opt for more sustainable, eco-friendly choices when possible and practical. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Say No to Single-Use Plastics
Replacing everyday single-use plastic items with reusable and sustainable alternatives is one easy way to reduce plastic consumption in your life. Single-use plastics are commonly used in everyday “convenience” items like water bottles, straws, shopping bags, and takeout containers. However, these items do not go away as simply as we like to believe. After being tossed into a garbage can, these items end up in landfills and oceans where they take hundreds of years to decompose. Replace these everyday items with reusable alternatives such as aluminum water bottles, bamboo straws, and glass containers that you can use time and time again.
Many household items are also made with plastics and are designed to be thrown away. For example, disposable razors are a large contributor to the plastic pollution problem. Rather than purchasing plastic razors, invest in reusable safety razors. These are made out of long-lasting metal, only requiring you to purchase new razor blades rather than an entirely new handle.
Shop Local or Buy in Bulk
A large portion of plastic waste is generated from the packaging on everyday food items. Thankfully, there are easy swaps for both perishable and nonperishable everyday items that can help reduce plastic usage at home, starting with shopping locally and buying in bulk at local co-ops and grocery stores.
When buying in bulk, customers have the option to bring their own reusable containers from home to fill with products like coffee, tea, spices, beans, and other dry goods. There are also refill stores that allow customers to refill reusable containers with household items like laundry detergent, shampoo, and cleaning solutions.
Your local farmers market is another great option to purchase local produce and meats that use less plastic packaging. Not only do these products require less shipping, which equates to less carbon emissions, they also skip the plastic packaging that you usually find in grocery store produce sections. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a farmer’s market, try searching for local farms or butchers to purchase from instead.
Make Your Own Food at Home
The convenience of ordering take-out or going out to eat can be very tempting, but it’s important to remember that these actions have long-term effects on our environment. Most of the time, take-out orders come with an excess of plastic waste in the form of plastic bags, styrofoam containers, and plastic utensils. When ordering take-out, delivery platforms often give you the option to opt-out of utensils and napkins. Be sure to choose this option and use reusable utensils at home to help limit your plastic waste.
Cooking at home also eliminates the need for these single-use plastics and is an easy way to reduce plastic in our everyday lives. When cooking at home, be mindful of the plastic packaging found on food in your fridge or pantry. Convenience items like frozen meals and pre-cut produce come with unnecessary packaging that’s damaging to our environment. When grocery shopping, look for packaging-free produce and try to purchase fresh ingredients whenever possible.
Support Sustainable Brands
Many of our everyday products contribute to the plastic pollution problem without us even realizing it! Supporting sustainable, eco-friendly brands that help reduce plastic consumption is an easy way to help our planet.
When shopping, try to limit your purchases to companies that are making sustainability a priority in their business. Whether it’s committing to going plastic-free or donating to important conservation movements, supporting these businesses with your purchases is a great way to help limit our plastic consumption.
You can also play an active role in reversing the plastic pollution problem by purchasing clothing made from sustainable textiles such as bamboo, cotton, or wool. Also, support brands that repurpose waste and use recycled materials to create their products. For example, Socktopus Ink is a sustainable children’s clothing company that repurposes ocean-bound plastics to create eco-friendly socks. Purchasing items like these can help keep plastics out of our oceans and landfills.
Help Make a Difference by Learning How to Use Less Plastic in Our Everyday Lives
Now more than ever, it’s important to reduce our use of plastics. Luckily, there are easy steps we can take everyday to reduce our plastic consumption. We can say no to single-use plastics by swapping them for reusable glass and biodegradable alternatives. We can eliminate plastic packaging by purchasing in bulk or shopping at our local farmer’s market. We can reduce excess plastic used in take-out orders by making our own food at home. Finally, we can support sustainable brands, like Socktopus Ink, that repurpose plastic waste into eco-friendly products.
Every small step can make a big difference in the fight against plastic pollution. Try implementing these easy changes in your life to help reduce plastic waste.