Resolution 1: Reduce personal consumption and output of plastics
Action plan: In our modern lives, it is hard to go a day without touching plastic, especially if you are an on-the-go person. This year, a viral video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose heartbreakingly showed us that our everyday choices are not without repercussions.
If you Google “Pacific Garbage Patch,” “microbeads,” or even “birds plastic,” the search results show difficult and graphic images of what our plastic problem is doing to our world and its inhabitants.
Small everyday choices can have big results, especially if many people try to make changes.
Making the switch from disposable plastic products to reusable glass products is one way to make a difference. Instead of plastic straws in every coffee, why not invest in your own personal set of glass straws to carry with you? There are many different options, from reasonably priced ones on Amazon to really nice glass straw sets from Simply Straws.
Another way to eliminate plastic in your daily use is to recycle your old plastic food storage containers and replace them with glass or pyrex food storage containers. Though the price upfront may seem more expensive, it is a long-term investment in both your own health (removing BPA-laden plastic) and the environment.
It’s no secret by now that plastic water bottles are a huge hazard to the environment, with some sources saying that it can take upwards of 450 years for a single bottle to decompose. There are many great reusable alternatives on the market, from mason jars to insulated cups, depending on what type of beverage you prefer.
On a positive note, the Microbead-Free Waters Act was just signed into action by President Obama. The bill, championed by Rep. Fred Upton and Rep. Frank Pallone, will ban the manufacturing of microbeads starting in July 2017. In July 2018, a ban on manufacturing over-the-counter drugs and sales of cosmetics with microbeads will begin. By July 2019, sales of over-the-counter drugs containing microbeads will begin.
In the meantime, try to abstain from purchasing products with microbeads in them. Download the Beat the Microbead App that allows you to scan products in the store to see if they contain microbeads. For more information about microbeads, check out the Beat the Microbead website.
Finally, another easy way to reduce your plastic output is with reusable shopping bags. Bring your own from home. There are so many cute totes out there for groceries, or you can go into any TJ Maxx or Ross and get one of their reusable shopping bags for around 99 cents. Fresh Market also has a good selection of reusable shopping bags of all sizes. Did you know that Whole Foods Markets will give you a dime for every reusable bag you use? You can either take the sum of the dimes off your purchase, or donate it to Whole Foods’ featured non-profit.
Also, when picking out produce, opt out of putting your individual veggies in those thin plastic bags. Buying nuts, grains, or coffee in bulk will also reduce your plastic consumption if you bring your own reusable bags or glass jars.
Tell us in the comment section how you will reduce your plastic consumption and output in 2016!