3 Reasons Why It's Important to Cut Back on Plastic (And 3 Ways to Get Started)
Nowadays, plastic waste is everywhere. Dishes, bottles, utensils, straws, bags -- all single-use plastic items that usually end up straight in landfills. On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour -- not to mention all the other kinds of plastic items that either can’t be recycled or end up in the wrong bin.
And that plastic waste never goes away. It’s not biodegradable. It piles up, impacts the environment, and can even damage your health.
With all the plastic waste in the world, it’s more crucial than ever to minimize your plastic use.
Here are just a few reasons why it’s so important to start cutting back on plastic.
It’s bad for the environment
Plastic waste accumulating in the ocean has quickly become a major global crisis. Since plastic is not biodegradable, billions of pounds of plastic are currently swimming around in the ocean. At current rates, the amount of plastic in the sea is even expected to outweigh the amount of fish in the sea by the year 2050! This is a huge problem for marine wildlife -- fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, and seabirds all frequently die from ingesting or getting tangled up in plastic, disrupting ecosystems and putting some endangered species at even worse risk of extinction. Cutting back on plastic makes it so you don’t cause more waste to pile up in the ocean.
All sorts of chemicals are added to plastic during its production. These chemicals (and the plastics that are treated with them) have potentially harmful effects that may be carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. Not much is known about how severe the effects of these chemicals can be, but limiting your plastic use puts you and your family at less risk.
It adds to the world’s trash
As the Environmental Protection Agency says, “Every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” Most single-use plastic items are used for a few moments, then exist forever as trash and pollution, taking up space and causing all sorts of problems. This is the only planet we have, and it’s up to us to take care of it. Anything we can do to minimize the waste we contribute is a positive thing
While cutting back on ALL plastic use can seem a little daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Start small and replace certain single-use plastic items with reusable alternatives, one by one. It may not seem like much, but those simple lifestyle changes really add up and make a big difference.
Here are a few changes you can make to make your day-to-day life and decisions more eco-friendly!
Say no to plastic straws
In 2018, Americans used around 390 million plastic straws a day. Most plastic straws can’t be recycled, so they end up in landfills or in the ocean. Drink your drinks without using a straw, or keep a bamboo or metal straw in your purse or car.
Use reusable bags
You don’t need paper or plastic. Find some sturdy reusable bags and bring them along with you when you go to the grocery store. Remember to skip the plastic bags at the produce section as well!
Swap out your toothbrush
Did you know that roughly 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes go straight to landfills in the U.S. each year? Switch to a biodegradable, compost-friendly bamboo toothbrush. They’re inexpensive and get the job done just as well.
Minimizing your personal plastic waste in small ways may not seem like much, but those simple lifestyle changes really add up and make a big difference.
Looking for more suggestions on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Check out 19 Easy Ways to Live More Sustainably in the New Year to read about the small, eco-friendly changes I’ve made in the last year.