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Single Use Plastics

With Earth Day just behind us and World Environment Day coming up on June 5, it’s a great time to take stock of all the ways we can subtly affect a positive change in our ever more volatile environment. Climate change is revealing its effect on everything from spiking homeowner’s insurance rates to a decrease in the global chocolate supply. Climate change deniers whose wallets and pallets are enduring this novel onslaught are changing their tunes. So how can you diminish your single use plastic footprint?

single use plastics

Just in case this is entirely new terrain for you, a single-use plastic is any plastic tool or convenience that you use once and then throw away. Examples include straws, shopping bags, water bottles, soap bottles, forks, etc. When we use these things on a regular basis, those things begin to stack up.

So now, give yourself some perspective! How many plastic straws have you used and thrown away in your life? Think of every time to ate fast food, bought an iced coffee, smoothie, or boba? Once a week? That’s 52 in a year, 520 in ten years.

As I write this the Great (Not So Great) Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch has grown to the staggering size of 1.6 million square kilometers! That more than two Texases or more than three Frances (And how many more Texases or Frances do we really need?). Now if you consider that it takes a plastic straw 200 years to decompose, you can probably see that nasty island isn’t going anywhere. It’s poisoning the earth and we humans are solely responsible for it.

And if you’re still reading this thinking to yourself that it’s not your problem, you should consider that in a 2024 study done by the University of Toronto and the Ocean’s conservancy found that over 80% of all meat, fish, and vegetarian meat alternatives contained microplastics. So you probably already have some of them lining your digestive tract. We’re only just beginning to learn what adverse effects come from this, but with increased rates of cancer, bowel issues, and endocrine impairment, there’s plenty of reasons to start removing any excess plastic from our lives.

And here’s how!

Look around your house for anything you’re using on a regular basis that’s made of plastic that you end up throwing away after you use or open it. Find all those things and replace them one by one. And if you’re having a hard time finding a place to start, here’s a helpful list of plastic-free household items and where to get them:

The kind folks at TreeBird have an assortment of plastic free dental hygiene gear.

Start with their Pure Silk Eco Floss (no plastic! All natural!) and move on to some tubeless toothpaste tablets from SeekBamboo! Just pop a tablet chomp, swish, and brush up that pearly grin!

Klean Kanteen offers an array of steel straws to disabuse yourself of the plague of plastic pucker suckers. Americans use and throw away millions of plastic straws each day. They don’t usually get recycled because of their size and shape, so they just end up out there in the world killing sea life and turning into more dangerous microplastics! So get yourself a reusable straw! Cleaning them is easy with their accompanying straw cleaners!

If you’re a fan of iced coffee, there are some pretty sweet reusable tumblers available on Amazon. Some of these come with reusable plastic and/or metal straws as well as straw cleaners. Bring these with you when you go to buy your favorite cold brew and some coffee shops will even give you an Eco discount! Covid had slowed this practice but it seems to be creeping back into the sipstream!

And if you find yourself beholden to take-out, you probably have familiarity with the dreaded plastic bag of plastic utensils! How many of these are in your purse or junk drawer right now? How many of them just get tossed without even being opened? Bamboo cutlery is a sustainable solution! These portable satchels from To-Go-Ware are sustainably sourced and can easily replace that army of plastic-bagged pokeys you’re packing. Remember – the less we use, the less they’ll make! And the world will be grateful when that number turns to zero.

And, finally, there’s a new product on the block that can reduce even more plastic waste. Breezeo laundry sheets remove the need of those hulking plastic bottles you have sitting on your washing machine. They come in a cardboard envelope with 48 strips inside. It takes up almost no space and there is no plastic involved! And, in my opinion, they smell great without being overpowering. Try ‘em out!

SIngle-Use Plastics may seem small, but they stack up quickly. From ziplock bags to sporks, they get used and flung into the world at large, forgotten! But compared to how long we use them, they linger in and deteriorate our ecosystem far longer than they should. It’s remarkable that societies across the globe can be so flippant about something so deleterious to the health of our planet — and us! The sooner we all step up to the plate and begin eliminating our reliance upon single-use plastics, the better for all life everywhere.

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