As we enter a new year, many will partake in renewing New Year resolutions. For most, these resolutions might be to lose weight, stop smoking, consume less alcohol or spend more time with family. In 2019, mine will be focused on making changes to my personal use of single use paper and plastic.
Over the last few months, I’ve become more enlightened to the increasing stress that single use products put on our ecosystem. With companies like 4Ocean and Parley working hard to remove ocean plastic, I felt compelled as an individual to assist in reducing my use of these items. One person making simple changes may not seem like much, but if we can multiply this by 10, 100 or 1000 people by sharing this practice, we can make a significant impact for our future.
Below are 5 practices, I believe to be simple but extremely impactful in reducing ocean plastic.
1. Stop using paper towels and use cotton hand towels around the home. Not only do these single use paper towels create unnecessary waste by using them, but through their life cycle create a single use waste trail. They’re packaged in single use plastic and ship in single use corrugated boxes to a distributor or retailer.
2. Use Tupperware or Pyrex for food storage and transport verses plastic storage bags. Finding a way to eliminate single use plastic storage bag consumption with multiuse storage containers may be one of the most important eco friendly practices on the list.
3. If dining out, ask for no straw or stir to be used in your drink order. Ask for a metal spoon or stir if you intend to mix in any artificial sweetener. If you think about the number of straws distributed in this manner, the numbers are dizzying. In almost every drink sold you receive at least one straw. If you get a refill there could be two or more in one sitting. All which end up in the trash. If you're like many and absolutely need to use a straw, there are quite a few companies now offering eco friendly multiuse straw options. One in particular is Current Straw, they make a stainless steel reusable straw which can easily be transported in the supplied bamboo sleeve.
4. One common practice is the consumption of single serve bottled water. Almost every city in the US offers safe drinking water. Still many consumers opt to purchase single serving "Spring" water from their local grocery store. While researching data on plastic water bottles I stumbled upon an Interesting article written for Business Insider in 2011 on the bottled water industry. While we understand this is a personal preference, most likely due to the taste of their city water source. We suggest a slightly more eco friendly option of buying water in bulk containers. This along with the use of a multiuse stainless steel water bottle (pictured below) reduces single serving plastic consumption significantly. This is a welcome new trend emerging in the last 12 months.
5. Lastly, and it's a big one. Use multiuse shopping bags made from burlap or other ecofriendly material for groceries or trips to dept. stores. For this step, you'll want to make sure you keep one or two of these bags close by, in the car glove box or back seat pocket works best.
In summary, some of these simple changes may seem challenging to remember every time. as we're presented with single serve plastic and paper quite often in our daily lives. But if we can share and encourage these simple ecofriendly habits, we can make great progress towards reducing the problems future generations face with plastic pollution.
This blog only covers 5 simple eco-friendly changes and we love feedback, so if you have more ideas you'd like to bring to light and contribute, please feel free to comment below.