It’s hard to imagine going a day without using plastic, yet we use many single-use plastics for a few minutes before they get tossed. Scientific research showing the environmental harm of disposable plastic is piling up faster than landfills. An estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enters the earth’s oceans annually , threatening nearly 700 species of marine animals who swallow or get entangled in floating debris. North Americans toss an estimated 557 million straws per day — that’s more than 203 billion bits of plastic every year. While we’ve made strides, researchers estimate that only 9% of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic generated around the world since the 1950s has actually made it to recycling. Imagine what the world might look like in 2050, when experts estimate that an additional 12 billion metric tonnes of plastic will have accumulated in landfills or our natural environment.
Fortunately, it’s really easy to reduce single-use plastics once you decide to pitch in to help ease the climate crisis. Here are six ways to stop using disposable plastics:
Bottled water facts are staggering but not surprising to anyone who’s ever watched cases of water flowing out of grocery stores or a music festival strewn with empty water bottles. An estimated one million single-use plastic water bottles are used every minute — and just 9% of those are actually recycled. Bottled water takes up to 2,000 times more energy to produce than tap water. And, like diapers or the strap on a six-pack of beer, disposable plastic water bottles can take an estimated 450 years or more to break down and decompose.Why not stick to local tap water? Blind testing shows people prefer the taste to bottled, and tap water is more heavily regulated for safety than bottled water. If you’re not a fan of the taste, try using a filter. Invest in a set of refillable water bottles or jars to keep in the fridge so you can quickly grab one with your keys before you head out the door.
You’re in good company if you love a coffee or three every day. Although those takeout coffee cups look like they’re made of recyclable paper, they’re actually lined with plastic so they can’t be recycled or composted. At best, they end up in garbage cans and landfills; at worst, they’re strewn on sidewalks, streets, parks and waterways.
Fortunately, you can keep your java habit without disposable coffee cups. Bring a thermos or portable mug to your favourite coffee or tea shop — you might even get a discount for bringing your own cup. Or budget a few extra minutes, plan to stay and sip your coffee from a real mug (remember to ask for a mug when you order). If you’re short on time AND your travel mug, take your coffee to go and forego the plastic lid.
If you cringe at the mound of zippered plastic bags, waxed wrappers, takeout containers, disposable cups and cling wrap generated by your midday meal, it’s time to put your lunch on a waste-free diet.
Hit up your grocery store or local eco-friendly shop for a huge selection of washable, reusable containers for packing lunches for work or school. Bento-style boxes come with separate compartments. Mason jars of various sizes can carry grain bowls, soups or salads. Stainless steel containers tend to have a longer shelf life than plastic and they weigh less than glass, but anything is better than plastic bags or takeout containers that can’t be reused or recycled. Look for plastic wrap alternatives made of washable, reusable beeswax or little machine-washable snack bags that close with a zipper or Velcro.
The inconvenient truth is that single-use products are bad for the planet because they often can’t be recycled and they won’t biodegrade until long after we’re all gone. Here are a few reusable alternatives:
Did you know that nearly 40% of plastic is generated for packaging? Try putting loose mushrooms in a reusable paper bag or bulk nuts in a Mason jar instead of buying packaged versions.
Caseco is a leader in reducing waste in the electronics industry. We’ve eliminated single-use plastics from our packaging and switched to recyclable paper boxes without plastic wrappers or inserts. Our packaging is printed with biodegradable, plant-based ink. We use recyclable materials whenever possible, and no animal products, in responsibly manufacturing Caseco products. By minimizing the size of our packaging, we’re also lowering shipping emissions and keeping costs low for you, our customers. Plus, every purchase you make at Caseco makes our world better by supporting 1% for the Planet and Plastic Oceans.