5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste

Because plastic is so cheap to produce, it is a huge part of our daily lives. Yet because it is so difficult to decompose, plastic has a massive impact on our carbon footprint.
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You may be using plastic without giving it a second thought:

  • Many toothbrushes are made of plastic
  • Household items like hangers, laundry-line pins and tupperware are made of plastic
  • Products like shampoo and laundry detergent are sold in plastic containers
  • Food is commonly packaged with plastic
  • Plastic produce bags are the norm at most supermarkets

50% of the plastic we use is single-use and then thrown away. 

Most people link reducing plastic waste to reducing pollution.

Plastic pollutes the ocean, killing marine life and birds. Because plastic takes over 400 years to decompose, all the waste just builds up in landfills and our oceans.

Reducing plastic waste is clearly good for the environment – but what some may not realize is how plastic directly affects our health.

When it comes to our health, plastic leaches toxins into the food and drinks we consume. Toxins from plastic can cause hormone disruption and cancer.

We are surrounded by more plastic than we realize.

But there are ways you can change your daily habits to reduce the plastic you consume!

When you change your habits, you change the way goods are produced and consumed. When we show companies and our legislators we care about reducing plastic waste, we can shift the way companies and legislators do business.

1. Stop using single-use plastic including plastic straws.

500 million single-use straws are used every day. One of the simplest shifts you can make is stopping your use of single-use plastic straws. When you order a drink, get into the habit of requesting no straw every time.

Reusable Straws We Love:

It’s important to keep in mind that single-use plastic straws make up just a small percentage of the eight million tons of plastic that go into the ocean every year.

While eliminating your single-use straw use will help, it’s not going to solve the plastic problem. That’s why we recommend reducing your plastic waste in many other ways!

2. Use reusable, biodegradable shopping bags.

Single-use plastics make up 40% of the plastic use worldwide. This includes single-use plastic shopping bags given after consumers make a purchase and the single-use plastic bags you use when you buy produce.

You might already bring a reusable shopping bag with you to the shop! But what material is that shopping bag made from?

We recommend toting biodegradable mesh bags when you do your shopping instead. The cotton used to make mesh bags are biodegradable. This means if you ever throw it out, the bag will break down instead of piling up in a landfill or the ocean for 400 years.

Our Top Picks:

3. Choose cardboard container boxes instead of plastic.

Another simple way to reduce your plastic waste is to opt for products packaged in cardboard containers over the plastic ones.

You might be surprised when you finally start paying attention to how many products we pick up that come in plastic containers, like laundry detergent, dish soap and even pasta noodles.

4. Use shampoo and conditioner bars instead of hair products from single-use plastic bottles.

More than 552 plastic bottles end up in landfills every year.

One simple way to reduce your plastic waste is to make the switch to shampoo and conditioner bars.

Our Top Picks:
  • Shampoo Bars (Ecoroots): silicone & palm oil free; plastic-free packaging & shipping
  • Conditioner Bars (Ecoroots): coconut oil & cocoa butter based

5. Bring a reusable container for takeaway food and coffee.

Ordering lunch or coffee takeaway can be so convenient! But instead of using single-use plastic or styrofoam containers, bring your own! This is a simple habit that can make a massive personal difference over time.

Our Top Picks:

Picture of Krista Aoki

Krista Aoki

Krista Aoki is the founder of Econalu. She is social change marketer and writer. The goal behind her writing is to educate the world on how small changes can make a big, lasting impact. Connect with her on Instagram or Medium.

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