Plastic is everywhere in modern times, seemingly unavoidable. From fresh produce to children’s toys to magazines, almost everything comes wrapped in it. It’s in our beauty products as tiny beads meant to ‘exfoliate,’ it thinly coats paper receipts and lines shiny wrapping paper, and it even makes an appearance as microscopic fibers in synthetic clothing.
Humanity has produced over 9.2 billion tons of plastic since it began heavily manufacturing the material post-World War II. A staggering 6.9 billion tons of that has become waste, with the majority of it never making it to a recycling facility. Most plastics don’t breakdown very easily, with some plastics taking as long as 450 years to decompose. So those billions of tons of plastic waste are going to be around for a long time, making their way into the oceans and eventually entering the food chain.
Certainly, we as a species need to come up with some large-scale solutions to our plastic pollution problem. But what can you and I do in everyday life to help make things better? Below, find 18 small but impactful changes you can make in your everyday life to help decrease global plastic use.
Of course, the purpose of this list is not to make any one among us feel guilty for things not being done (I’m certainly not one to point fingers, as I can only put a check mark besides perhaps half of these habits as of present…), but rather to inspire and to get us all to be a touch more mindful of our choices.
Stay tuned for more on this topic in the near future. In the meantime, read on – and feel free to share your own tips for living a more environmentally-friendly life in the comments below.
1 – Try switching to solid soap and shampoo bars instead of shower gel to cut down on plastic packaging.
2 – Avoid hand sanitizers, scrubs, and other products that contain plastic micro-beads.
3 – Consider getting a bamboo toothbrush – the handle is completely biodegradable, although the bristles are still plastic.
4 – Similarly, consider using a wooden hairbrush – the bristles are still plastic, but the rest would be greener.
5 – Opt for reusable shopping bags. (…and remember to bring them when you go shopping!)
6 – Switch to loose-leaf tea, or look for brands that sell biodegradable teabags.
7 – Choose plastic-free chewing gum, like chicle. (Yup! Believe it or not, there is plastic in most chewing gum.)
8 – Try to buy wine bottles that have real corks, not plastic ones.
9 – Skip bottled water and instead carry your own reusable metal canteen.
10 – Grab a paper rather than plastic straw if you really need one.
11 – Get a reusable cup for your hot drinks.
12 – Give beeswax wraps a try rather than using plastic cling film.
13 – Store food in glass, cardboard, or metal containers when possible.
14 – Skip the plastic bag and just buy unwrapped produce.
15 – Buy washing powder sold in cardboard boxes.
16 – Hang your clothes using wooden hangers, not plastic ones – or simply fold them and pop them in a dresser.
17 – Use matches (or a flint and steel if out adventuring!) rather than plastic lighters to light candles or start up a fire.
18 – Switch to paperless billing to avoid getting those envelopes with the little plastic windows.