Growing up in Los Angeles, I know a thing or two about plastic, but even I didn’t know that the Pacific Gyre is now twice the size of Texas, with almost all of the trash made from plastic.

Most of us probably don’t pay attention to just how much plastic we consume on a daily level.  From health bar wrappers to bags at the market to water bottles to toothbrushes, it piles up quickly.   Plastic can take anywhere between 20 to 1,000 years to break down and degrade.  But even in the best-case 20-year scenario, plastics don’t biodegrade.  They photodegrade.  Simply enough—plastics only break down into smaller pieces that contaminate the soil, water, and eventually animals that ingest them.  Plus, petroleum is a non-renewable resource.

So, what can we do day-to-day?  There are a couple of sites encouraging every day people to take “the plastic challenge.”  Some prompt people to collect the plastic they use every day for a week, to give them a real idea of their waste.   I like the Green Plate 7-Day Challenge.

Especially since they have some very simple and no fuss ways to reduce your plastic footprint.

Tips to reduce your plastic use include:

  1. Just say no to the straw.  Even if it means messing up your lipstick
  2. Always carry a refillable water bottle.
  3. Bring your bags to the market. Duh.
  4. Pay attention to unnecessary plastics in your house. Plastic sandwich bags are a huge waste.  If you must use them, rinse them out and reuse.  Wrapping foods in recycled kraft-like paper is a good alternative.

Beth Terry, founder of what was formally Fake Plastic Fish is a great resource if you want to learn more about living plastic free.  She’s been working at it since 2007!

 

-Arianna Schioldager

 

 

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