Over 7 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans each year and, according to the journal Science Advances, of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic humanity has produced only 9 percent has been recycled.
The statistics might make the problem sound insurmountable and too overwhelming to fix, but in fact it’s clear that we can easily change our plastic usage. Single-use straws, disposable coffee cups, and plastic bags are some of the biggest pollution culprits and yet also some of the simplest items to replace with eco-friendly and sustainable options.
There are plenty of small, cost-effective changes we can all implement that make a huge difference to the natural world.
Replace these five everyday items to reduce the amount of plastic you use each day:
- Coffee cups
Planet Ark estimates that about 60,000 kilograms of coffee cup-related plastic waste are thrown away each year. Do you drink one coffee a day? Carry a reusable coffee cup with you and that’s about 365 disposable cups and plastic lids you’ve personally kept out of landfill or the environment.
- Water bottles
When it’s recommended that you drink between 2.1 to 2.6 litres of water each day, carrying a water bottle with you becomes a necessity. However if you purchase, at a low estimate, just one bottle a month, that’s twelve bottles each year. Replace the plastic bottle you’re already carrying on you with you a reusable bottle. They’re as convenient as a disposable bottle but look much nicer, are BPA-free, and last as long as you need, saving you money in the long term. Enjoy guilt-free healthy hydration.
- Shopping bags
If you go grocery shopping once a week and purchase two plastic bags worth of food, that’s 104 plastic bags you’re using per year. While single-use plastic bags are being phased out of most grocery retailers, avoid plastic altogether by carrying reusable shopping bags with you.
Dentists suggest you change your toothbrush at least every three months and, like other plastic products, once you throw your plastic toothbrush away it goes into landfill and remains there. Swap out your plastic toothbrushes for biodegradable toothbrushes that will break down safely with recyclable bristles.
While many venues are phasing out plastic straws, it’s easy to ask your server to leave the straw behind just in case. Or, if you require a straw, bring a handy stainless-steel straw with you. They’re stylish, easy to clean, and will save your lip gloss from smudging.
So what’s the final tally? By implementing all of the above plastic-free tips, you’ll be keeping at least 485 pieces of single-use plastic out of the environment each year. Does that still sound like a drop in the ocean? If every person in Australia made a similar lifestyle change, that’d be over 11 billion plastic products per year we’d prevent from ever being dumped in landfill or swept into our oceans.
The easiest way to help make a big difference is to make a small change today. Start with just one of the above tips. Once it’s part of your regular routine, introduce the next plastic-free lifestyle alternative. Before you know it, you’ll be helping reduce plastic production and create a happier, more sustainable way of life.