Plastic is everywhere. Plastic is wrapped around products and packages, used as ziploc bags and grocery bags, constantly thrown away as disposable water bottles. Most people do not realize the magnitude of plastic used on an average basis. In fact, only 9% of plastic actually gets recycled- 12% gets incinerated, while the other 79% accumulates in landfills and the natural environment.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been collecting plastic and trash for decades, extending hundreds of miles- about three times the size of France. This gyre is the result of two ocean currents that create a whirlpool of human trash, plastic collected along the currents and caught into the center of the gyre.
But single-use plastic products have become essential to daily life. What are the alternatives to plastic? It may be easier to incorporate environmentally-friendly products into your life than you may think.
Plastic straws: Use straws that are stainless steel and washable, or use bamboo, paper, and silicone straws. There are many alternatives and growing movements to curb the use of plastic straws. For example, Starbucks stores now use sippable lids to decrease straw waste, only giving straws when requested.
Plastic cups and lids: Save money and the environment by choosing to make your own drinks at home with reusable glass cups or mugs. Most cups bought from cafes or shops end up sitting in landfills and are not compostable.
Plastic cutlery and utensils: Most people have metal cutlery at home, so why use plastic utensils when you end up throwing them away? Opt out of plastic utensils, invest in travel cutlery sets, or use reusable bamboo utensils.
Plastic containers and plates: Many restaurants use food packaging one time for each meal, and customers throw the convenient container away without a thought. Search for restaurants that promote reusable takeout containers and avoid meals that are pre-packaged in plastic.
Plastic food storage: Consider investing in glass jars, Pyrex containers, and washable dishware.
Plastic bags: These are among the highest uses of plastic each year, with a trillion plastic bags used annually. Luckily, there have been state taxes on plastic bags, helping consumers to bring their own cloth bags for groceries. Invest in natural cloth bags or baskets to hold your groceries!