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Plastic is everywhere we look. Over the last fifty years, plastic has become the material of choice for many of the products we use on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it is also the most common type of marine debris found in our ocean harming wildlife and damaging the marine ecosystem.
The biggest issue with plastic is that it hangs around for a very long time. It takes a plastic bottle 450 years to decompose and a plastic straw or plastic bag 1,000 years to start to decompose. After the 450 years, plastic starts to break down into micro-plastics which never go away. Did you know that every piece of plastic ever made still exists today?
All of this plastic is piling up and lingering in the ocean for generations. The good news is that we can choose alternatives to all of that plastic. Here are ways YOU can help!
Stop buying water
Unless there’s some kind of contamination crisis, plastic water bottles are an easy target for reducing waste. Instead, keep a refillable bottle handy for water. And, bring a mug for your other favorite beverages - even when ordering take out.
Although plastic bags are free and convenient, they have a high environmental cost because they never degrade and are the number one source of plastic pollution. Always carry reusable bags including grocery bags and produce bags, just keep them in your car for easy access.
Say no to to-go containers.
Styrofoam and plastic to-go containers contain harmful chemicals and additives. You can bring your own containers and utensils when ordering take-out. Also, purchase food (such as cereal, pasta and rice) from bulk bins while using a reusable container.
Skip the straw
Stop using plastic straws. If a straw is necessary, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
Give up gum
Gum used to be made of tree sap, but these days it is actually made from polymer. Polymer is a type of plastic made from oil that is similar to the products used in tires (rubber). Gross!
Don't believe plastic is biodegradable
There are 7 types of plastic. But, only plastic types 1 and 2 are routinely and efficiently recycled. Make sure if you must buy plastic - to look on the bottom of the bottle for the type of plastic. If you have questions about recycling, check out https://search.earth911.com/.
Always purchase compostable plastic over biodegradable plastic.
Looking for more information on how to use less plastic, eat better, keep toxins out of your body, and help save sea turtles? Read the Plastic Purge by Michael Sanclements.