The reduction of single-use plastic has become a crucial tactic in the fight against widespread plastic pollution, and while it must remain in tandem with other efforts to yield significant change, it is comparatively one of the easier steps that can be taken towards this goal.
As a broad starting point, here are five single-use plastics that you can feasibly cut out of your life starting today.
Plastic water bottles
Water bottles are perhaps the easiest single-use material to eliminate from your daily routine, as there are countless sustainable alternatives ranging from reusable bottles to thermoses. In many cases, these products are capable of keeping drinks cold or warm for longer periods of time anyway (not to mention they can save you the trouble of continuously purchasing packs of water bottles), so the benefits heavily outweigh those of continued single-plastic use.
Plastic shopping bags
There has been a noticeable increase in the amount of grocery shoppers using reusable bags, and an equally large amount of retailers are beginning to promote these bags as both a consumer perk and a marketing technique. Many reusable bags are also purposely made large for bulk shopping, making it easier to consolidate groceries in a single trip.
Plastic takeout containers
Arguably one of the toughest single-use products to quit, plastic takeout containers have remained a chronic pollutant due to their timeless convenience. Changing the culture around food takeout is a key step towards eliminating this issue. Consider shifting emphasis to reusable containers, which may be less convenient by comparison, but are far from an inconvenient alternative.
Plastic utensils may be an easy option for parties and other large events, but they ultimately unnecessary and should be abandoned in favor of their reusable traditional counterparts. Just like with takeout containers, much of this change will hinge on curbing our collective reliance on convenience.
Single-use plastic straws, like plastic cutlery, are capable of being rendered obsolete in favor of reusable metal straws (and, simply, different methods of beverage consumption). Yet, these products consistently make top 10 lists for items collected during clean-ups and other plastic reduction initiatives. Personal use of plastic straws is especially avoidable, so be sure to nip this issue in the bud if you remain a consistent offender at home.