Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to how much plastic we use on a daily basis. Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes. Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
It can take 450 years for one plastic bottle to fully decompose. A Starbucks cup and lid can live on for over 100 years because the lids and lining are plastic. Plastic will not fully decompose for a very long period of time (an average of 100 – 500 years). Plastic packaging accounts for just over 40% of total plastic usage. At the moment over 100 billion plastic beverage bottles per year are sold in the US alone.
More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. The Marine Conservancy has published that the estimated decomposition rates of most plastic debris found on coasts are:
- Foamed plastic cups: 50 years
- Plastic beverage holder: 400 years
- Disposable diapers: 450 years
- Plastic bottle: 450 years
- Fishing line: 600 years
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes. By 2050, the foundation say that the ocean will contain more plastic (by weight) than fish.
Just think about it. All the plastic straws, plastic baggies, plastic wrap, plastic water bottles and caps, plastic soda/juice bottles and caps, plastic silverware, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic produce bags, plastic grocery store bags, plastic food packaging… TOO MUCH PLASTIC.
It makes me sick to my stomach because some people are truly unaware of how much plastic they use. It’s okay if you haven’t gotten around to transitioning into a more eco-friendly life with less plastic because you can start now. It’s never too late, and every one of us must make changes.
I’ve made HUGE changes to my plastic usage the past couple years, trying to minimize it whenever I possibly can. It’s not hard, people! It’s just a change that we all have to get more accustomed to. Bringing your own reusable cup when ordering coffee, bringing your own reusable bags (and produce bags) for groceries, not buying water bottles and using your own glass or reusable bottle instead. It’s very simple, you just have to get used to the habit of bring your own everything! Especially if we want to live here on planet earth and swim in the ocean without wading through plastic.
Today, I’m sharing Eco-Friendly Plastic Alternatives I Love. I like to make it a game, like how much less plastic can I use today? Plastic-free should become our new normal. These changes are simple and easy to implement, so enjoy!
Reusable Produce and Bulk Section Bags:
This was a huge one for me! I already let most produce sit loosely in my cart but sometimes you want to keep your produce clean and contained. So instead of pulling off a plastic bag that you use for all of 20 minutes (until you unpack your groceries at home), opt for these reusable produce bags. made of natural cotton mesh. They’re so soft and make me happy!
For bulk foods like nuts, seeds or flours, you can get these reusable bulk bags like mine, or you can opt for brown paper bags. The bags pictured above are from Colony Co. and both the produce and bulk bags pictured above have the tare weight sewn on the side, so the cashier can subtract that amount at checkout! So easy!
Reusable Silicone Bags:
Instead of plastic baggies, these stasher bags are amazing! They are dishwasher-safe, self-sealing and perfect for sandwiches, fruit, veggies, crackers, etc. They also have larger storage size bags as well as snack size bags. I’m so obsessed with them and it makes me happy to not buy plastic baggies anymore, especially when they are all I used to use, which is unfortunate.
Reusable Bee’s Wrap:
Switch to Bees Wrap instead using plastic saran wrap! It’s the coolest beeswax type of material and will stick together but does not feel sticky if that makes sense. Not vegan, but pretty sure the trade-off is worth it, you know?! Wrap up fruit, vegetables, or bread. It can cover a bowl as well and makes for an amazing zero waste kitchen hack! I love this print as well.
Reusable Grocery Bags:
I have quite the collection now of reusable bags because I refuse to use the terrible plastic bags. You can find bags like these anywhere, even during checkout. They are cheap and sustainable, and probably the easiest switch to make. I especially love these cloth tote grocery bags and these freezer bags with zippers!
Reusable Glassware, Mugs & Straws:
Also, a super simple switch from using plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups and plastic straws to reusable alternatives. I used to bring a plastic water bottle to the gym and now I have cute glass bottles that I fill with my filtered Berkey water. Remember from above? A plastic water bottle can take 450 years to fully decompose. No thank you!
I also bring a YETI tumbler when ordering Starbucks. They don’t mind, I just make sure it is clean obviously and I hang on to the lid until they hand over my coffee.
Plastic straws are another easy switch! When out at a restaurant, opt for no straws or bring your own softee straw like the pastel ones I have above. Also pictured are weck jars. In these, I store smoothies, soups, yogurt, juices, chia pudding, etc. I love weck jars as they have many different sizes (small, medium and large, amongst many other variations). Large wide-mouth mason jars are what we drink out of here at home! They’re great for lemon water, smoothies and my golden glow elixir.
Reusable Storage Glassware:
Instead of plastic storage containers for leftovers or meal prepping, switch to glassware! Glass will also protect your food from the chemicals in plastic that can leech into the food. For this I love weck jars as mentioned above, but also love this set of glass storage containers and any reusable glassware, really. Mason jars are perfect too for storing nuts, seeds, beans, rice, quinoa, etc!
I hope this helps and offers some starting points for you. I still have improvements to make but I’m always trying. It doesn’t all happen at once, but awareness is key.
What are some ways that you are reducing your plastic usage?! Let me know in the comments below 🙂