Our planet has become a dumping ground for a lot of garbage. The problem continues to grow as single-use plastic products are continually manufactured, sold, used and quickly thrown away. Here are 5 ways to reduce your single-use plastic use.

  1. Avoid products wrapped in plastic packaging. When buying food, buy whole foods and bring your own produce bags. Buy dried fruit, nuts, flour, legumes, rice, oats, coffee and so on in the bulk section of your grocery store. For other items, look for products packaged in recyclable materials. If plastic packaging is unavoidable for the item you’re shopping for, let the manufacturer know how you feel about their packaging choices.

  2. Avoid buying bottled water. Invest in a good water filter and some reusable bottles. Encourage your family to bring reusable bottles to school and work. Like anything else, once it becomes a habit to bring your water in a reusable container, it’s easy to remember.

  3. While you’re avoiding bottle water, stop buying bottled soda and juice. Instead of buying sugary and unhealthy soda and juices (which are typically packaged in single-use plastic bottles), eat some fruit. Eating the fruit is healthier for your body than just drinking the fruit juice and fruit has its own natural packaging.

  4. Refuse plastic straws the next time you eat out or take food to go. If you need a straw, bring your own. Plastic straws are used and thrown away at an alarming rate. According to org, 500 million straws are used every day in the U.S. That’s unbelievable when you consider that it’s an item that doesn’t need to be used at all. And, if you really want to use one, there are many reusable straw options.

  5. Choose plastic-free chewing gum. Did you even know that most chewing gum is made of plastic? I had no idea until I read an article about it at My Plastic Free Life. From the article: “According to Chemistry.About.com, chewing gum was originally made from tree sap called chicle, a natural rubber, and sometimes various waxes. But… After World War II, chemists learned to make synthetic rubber, which came to replace most natural rubber in chewing gum (e.g., polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate). The last U.S. manufacturer to use chicle is Glee Gum.” You can read the entire article here.

Need some encouragement to quit bottled water? Watch The Story of Stuff video, an extremely eye-opening look at the bottled water business. You’ll find it here.

As always be sure when you do need to use plastics you put them in the recycle bin when you are done with them. Find out where to recycle anything here.