As 2017 comes to an end it is a good time for each of us to set resolutions to be more green in 2018.

One resolution for each of us to consider is reducing our reliance on plastics.

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Since the 1950s an estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced & approximately 79% of that plastic has accumulated in landfills or in nature. Only 9% was recycled, and 12% was incinerated.[1]

Plastics have three damaging effects on our environment:

  1. They require petroleum to make, feeding our dependence on destructive fossil fuels extraction.
  2. Very little used plastic is recycled – they are most likely polluting land & bodies of water, or it remain in the waste stream.
  3. Plastics do not biodegrade; even the ones deemed ‘biodegradable’ do not break down in the ocean.[2]

Chemicals that go into the making of plastics most likely end up in ecosystems & then ingested by animals & humans. In the oceans, plastic debris kills marine life & creates floating hazards.[3] Plastics in landfills leach toxic chemicals into groundwater.[4]

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A 2009 study identified the problems resulting from the “…accumulation of waste in landfills and in natural habitats, physical problems for wildlife resulting from the ingestion or entanglement in plastic, the leaching of chemicals from plastic products & the potential for plastics to transfer chemicals to wildlife and humans. [5] This article contains more information on the multiple effects plastics can have.

Here are five consumption tips that will help you reduce your use of plastics in the coming year:

  • Stop relying on plastic bags, in any form, when shopping. Invest in reusable shopping bags.
  • Stop buying bottled water or juices. Get into a routine of filling up your reusable bottle at home & at work. If you invest in a good insulated container you can fill it up with ice & refill it with water throughout the day. If you have more than one bottle keep it on hand wherever you may need it (i.e., in the car for water or coffee on the road, at the office, etc.).
  • Invest in reusable glass or stainless steel straws & carry it around with you. Plastic straws are a “single use plastic item” (use it & then toss it). You can do a search online to find examples, do your research & then make an informed purchase.

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  • Stop using styrofoam when purchasing beverages, order takeout, etc. Buy & use refillable drink containers for your drinks. Some establishments even offer a discount if you bring your own cup. Take a reusable container with you for your left overs when eating out.
  • Pack your lunches in reusable containers & bring along your own reusable cutlery.

For more useful tips check out these articles:

10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution

11 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste today

51 Ways to reduce plastic use or completely eliminate it!

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[1] Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made
[2] Biodegradable plastics don’t break down in the ocean, U.N. says
[3] The Oceans Are Drowning In Plastic — And No One’s Paying Attention
[4] Plastic Not-So-Fantastic: How the Versatile Material Harms the Environment and Human Health
[5] Plastics, the environment and human health: current consensus and future trends

 

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