Cut Your Use of Plastic, Plastic, Plastic | EcoCenter | Smithsonian
Current Issue
July / August 2014  magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Cut Your Use of Plastic, Plastic, Plastic

Recycling isn't enough

smithsonian.com

You are not new to recycling.  You’ve been doing it for years and it’s a big part of your daily routine. You’ve become at an expert at identifying what plastics you can and cannot recycle. Now focus on another important part of eco-friendly living: reduce your use of plastic.

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year or in landfills. If that’s not enough, almost 3 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year worldwide. Nearly 80 percent of all water bottles are not recycled and wind up in landfills.  We are drowning in plastic, people!

That plastic can be bad for us and bad for the environment. Recent studies have shown that there’s more plastic than plankton in some of the remote parts of our oceans. And there are increasing reports on the human health effects of chemicals used in plastic products. Let’s also not forget that plastic is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource and a major contributor to global warming.

So let’s get to it– how to reduce your use of plastics:

1. Don’t use garbage bags—just empty your trash into the garbage bin.

2. If you don’t like that approach, get yourself some recycled or biodegradable, compostable garbage bags.

3. Request that your daily newspaper not be wrapped in plastic when delivered. (Or cancel your newspaper subscription and go totally online for your news fix– you’ll save hundreds of trees as well.)

4. Take your own plastic or metal container to the restaurant to take home your leftovers when you’re eating out. Sure they’ll look at you funny, but remember you’re an eco-trend-setter!

5. Remind your favorite take-out place to leave out the plastic utensils when they pack your food to go. Your drawers are full of them already! And politely decline the bag if you only have one or two items to carry home.

6. Ask you favorite dry-cleaners to eliminate the plastic wrap on your clothes. Don’t forget to choose an eco-friendly, non-toxic dry cleaner too.

Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus