Small Ways to Reduce Plastic Usage

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Try and think of something you use every day that doesn’t contain plastic in some form–it’s probably harder to come up with an answer to that question then you initially thought. The issue with this material is it’s not biodegradable, which means it does not break down quickly back into the earth. Though it varies depending on the type of plastic and where it ends up, it can take about one hundred to one thousand years to decompose.

The more conscious people are of the effects and how much plastic is routinely used, the more we can start to make small changes in our everyday lives. Here are a few easy alternatives and practices for common products we use daily.

Straws

You can say no to straws at restaurants—you don’t have to use them. Most people are just accustomed to them being offered and it has now become a force of habit to use them.

Recently, coffee chain Starbucks got rid of their straws completely, which is a huge step toward reducing the amount of plastic we use.

Instead of plastic, try getting reusable straws made of material like stainless steel or even bamboo. These can be washed and get more than one use.

Reusable shopping bags

Reusable bags are no new trend and are available for purchase at most grocery stores. While they are a better option to help the environment, they are more beneficial to use for carrying purposes, as well. The reusable bags tend to have more space and are much sturdier then plastic. Utilizing these bags will help a good cause and you won’t have to wonder if you’ll lose a few items on the walk to your car.

Toothbrush

Similar to the straw alternatives, you can get a toothbrush made of bamboo. These have about the same life span as any toothbrush, but the difference is it will safely decompose back into the earth quickly, whereas your plastic ones will sit on the earth for years to come if not recycled properly.

Plastic hangers

This one is often over looked: think about the hangers you have at home, or the ones you return home from the store with and don’t use. These are so easy to substitute or simply say no to. Wire hangers are available as an alternative option to plastic, and if you go to the store and notice a cashier placing the plastic hanger in your bag, all you have to do is say no thank you!


These are just a few small steps to help you become more conscious of plastic usage, and that you can ease into implementing. In the grand scheme of things, sometimes all it takes to help the environment is to learn about alternatives to the items we use every day that are causing harm to it.

For more ways you can help the environment, visit www.americanlifestylemag.com/culture.