What is Single-Use Plastics and How to Avoid Them?

Samantha Zeitz

Reducing plastic waste has become a hot topic and for a good reason. Single use plastic has become so common that it’s responsible for half of all plastic produced globally. Single- use plastics are plastics that get used just once before being thrown away. With 8.8 million tons of plastic going into the ocean annually, single use plastic has to be eliminated.

Some single use items include plastic bottles, plastic straws, and plastic bags. These items are difficult to recycle so most of it ends up in landfills and natural environments. Three hundred million tons of plastic is produced every year and according to recycling experts, only 9 percent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled.

One trillion plastic bags get used every year and only one percent gets recycled. Studies claim that if we don’t change our ways there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight) by 2050. Many businesses and organizations are working to do their part to reduce plastic waste. Starbucks announced they would stop using straws by 2020 – eliminating 1 billion straws. Grocery stores like Kroger in the Untied States are transitioning to only reusable bags by 2050. You don’t have to be a large company to do your part. Plastic reduction can start in the home.

Here are some ways you can reduce your plastic use and help the environment:

• Not all plastic can be recycled but some still can. Find out what your local recycling plant can accept and separate your waste at home.
• Instead of using a plastic straw, either don’t use one at all or get a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
• Purchase a reusable water bottle and refill it instead of reaching for the single use bottles.
• Avoid plastic utensils at home and ask that they don’t be packed in your to-go orders
• Pack your lunches in reusable containers or bags.
• Buy items like laundry detergent in boxes instead of bottles. Cardboard is easier to recycle than plastic.
• Use fresh citrus instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s healthier for you and the environment.
• Bring your own containers for take-out at restaurants instead of using their Styrofoam packaging.

With so many reusable options there’s no need for single-use plastics. Once you have your reusable alternatives, you won’t have to worry about running out of single use items anymore.