Use Less Plastic

  • Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw

  • Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often! 

  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic. 

  • Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.

  • Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.

  • Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop

  • Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam. 

  • Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter. 

  • Avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Even those that appear to be cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic. Plus you'll be eating fewer processed foods!

  • Don't use plasticware at home and be sure to request restaurants do not pack them in your take-out box.

  • Ask your local grocer to take your plastic containers (for berries, tomatoes, etc.) back. If you shop at a farmers market they can refill it for you.

  • The EPA estimates that 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers are discarded in the US each year. Use cloth diapers to reduce your baby's carbon footprint and save money. 

  • Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It's healthier and better for the environment.

  • Bottles of cleaner. Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic b

  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.

  • Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor

  • Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.

In just 45 years, our consumption rate of plastic bags has grown from almost zero decades ago to our now use of over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually … almost 1 million per minute.
 

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags  annually. 12 million barrels of oil are required to make that many plastic bags.

  • Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.

  • It takes about 72 billion gallons of water a year to make plastic bottles.

  • Plastic bags cause hundreds of thousands of birds, sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year because these creatures  mistake plastic trash for food.

  • Countries like China, Ireland, Australia, Bangladesh have banned or have placed restrictions on  single use plastic bags.

About 8 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the oceans each year, a World Economic Forum report found last year. At the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish, by weight, in the oceans by 2050, the report said. Roughly 25 countries have enacted measures to cut the use of plastic bags. In 2008, China barred retailers from giving customers free ultra-thin single-use plastic bags.

Plastic bags were introduced by grocery stores and other retailers in the U.S. in the 1970's and spread rapidly. An estimated 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. annually.“We had a very functional society before we had plastic bags,” said Sherri

Mason, chair of the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences at the State University of New York at Fredonia. “These are items we’re using for minutes and we’re making them out of materials that last for centuries. It makes no sense.” In Pennsylvania, plastic bag manufacturers urged Gov. Wolf to reconsider his stance on the bill, saying it protects jobs and encourages recycling.
 

“Government-enacted bag ordinances inevitably restrict consumer choice, and a strong majority of Americans prefer the promotion of voluntary recycling programs to government regulation aimed at plastic bags,” said Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry-supported group.
 

Corrections & Amplifications:
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill that bars cities from banning plastic, paper or reusable bags. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said his name was Tom. Also, a law passed earlier this year in New York blocked a 5-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City from taking effect. The same article said the city had a fee on plastic bags. (7/6/2017)

What can I do to make a difference?

  • Taiwan banned plastic bag and plastic utensils as a way to reduce  60,000 metric tons of waste per year they deal with each year

  • 93% of Americans 6 or older test positive for BPA a chemical used to make plastics because it is absorbed into their bodies.

  • Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S. purchases 1.8 billion bags a year. They just announced  a new program to give consumers a nickel back for each reusable bag they bring into their stores when they shop.

  • Target (Australia) completely banned single use plastic bags in their stores in 2008.

  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.

  • Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.

  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.  Each of us creates 1,500 lbs of trash every year that has to be disposed of that could be recycled with a little effort.
     

Now you know … time to pitch in and do your part! Remember, every piece of plastic ever produced and not recycled still exists!

 

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