3 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

Although July marked a movement towards adopting a plastic-free month, it is now more important than ever to do what you can to reduce your use of plastic. It is estimated that every year, eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean. Plastics only started to be widely used in the 1960s, but our use of plastic throughout the globe has only increased since then. While the type of plastic determines its decomposition rate, most plastics take around 1,000 years to fully disintegrate — that means that the plastic water bottle you’re drinking out of will be around for hundreds of years after it has served its purpose. Around the globe, some countries — including South Korea, Colombia, Tunisia, and more — have begun to ban single-use plastics, but unless there is widespread change throughout the globe, their efforts to ban plastics won’t have much of an effect on the overall health of the Earth and our oceans. But, to start making a difference, here are a few small changes you can begin to implement in order to reduce your plastic use!


  1. 1. Reusable Cups/Straws

    Some of the primary examples of single-use plastics are water bottles, coffee cups, and plastic straws. These items often cannot be recylced, so they are sent directly to landfills after they’re used. In order to switch to more sustainable practices, try carrying around a water bottle or a reusable cup with you. Straws were one of the first single-use plastics to become more widely regulated. While it is great that this plastic is being controlled, these bans can also harm people with disabilities who need them. For people that can use other options (such as stainless steel straw alternatives) or who can forgo straws, that is a great way to reduce your plastic use. But, it is important to realize that a certain amount of plastic use may be necessary for some. 

    Reusable water bottle and coffee cup options can be found here.

    Reusable straw options can be found here.

  2. 2. Grocery Bags

    Plastic bags are some of the worst offenders for marine life. The combination of the shape of plastic bags coupled with their longevity is extremely damaging to both marine and human life. To counteract plastic bags, try bringing a tote bag with you whenever you go shopping. At Trader Joe’s and other retailers, you can even get discounts for bringing in your own bags. Even though I always try to bring reusable bags with me to the store, if I do forget, I try to at least reuse the plastic bag I’m given in some way in order to offset its single-use nature.

  3. 3. Buy Secondhand

    Whether it’s thrift shopping, going to secondhand stores, or buying used items, there are so many options to avoid contributing to the fast fashion market. With the production of clothing, the treatment of workers, the use of water, oil, and land, and the deforestation involved, fast fashion practices are extremely detrimental to the environment. While there are many cases in which buying new items is necessary or preferable, making the choice to avoid fast fashion and give back to smaller stores can help create a more positive change while caring for the environment. 

In almost every area of life, there are small changes that you can make to help the environment. Every small action helps, but if you are passionate about caring for the Earth and improving the status of the natural world, be sure to get involved and vote for policies that protect the planet!


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