Smart Finds to Reduce Your Single-Use Plastic Waste
Pledging to reduce your reliance on plastic this year? Start with these eco-friendly upgrades and help save our oceans.
By Libby MacCarthy
Eco eye-opener: Americans use enough plastic water bottles in a single year to circle the Earth 350 times. You’ve no doubt seen the stats and lingered on photos depicting litter-strewn beaches and plastic-plagued fish on your newsfeed. 2018 was the year the world woke up to the plastic pollution crisis, and businesses, governments, and citizens responded to the call to find creative solutions to this overwhelming problem. At the rate we are tossing plastic water bottles, cups, bags, cutlery, and other one-offs, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, according to an estimate from the World Economic Forum. Scary stuff.
By making a few simple and sustainable (read: responsible and consistent) swaps, you can effortlessly slash your plastic footprint in 2019. Not sure where to start? Kick off your plastic diet with these eight reusable wonders.
Plastic straws are quickly becoming public enemy number one as scores of businesses rightfully eliminate them in an effort to cut down on plastic waste. Still, they arguably make sipping a favorite beverage even more enjoyable. Rather than reconcile yourself to an eternity of sucking down smoothies and iced matcha lattes sans straw, invest in a reusable set. These sleek stainless straws come with wooden cases for taking them on-the-go and brushes for keeping them clean.
Investing in a reusable water bottle is an essential way to stem your use of single-use plastic. But what if you don’t like the taste of your tap water? Enter the 10-cup capacity Brita Monterey Pitcher. Its Longlast™ filter reduces odors, impurities, and contaminants like a boss, delivering up to 120 gallons of delicious water, so you can ditch disposables and stay fully hydrated. In one year, you can save 1,800 disposable 16-ounce bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans with just two Longlast™ filters. And those filters? TerraCycle recycles them into chairs, bike racks, park benches and more!
You can breathe a sigh of relief—you don’t have to kick your green juice habit for the greater good. If your go-to juice joint relies on plastic bottles to serve up its sips, juicing under your own roof will drastically clip the amount of plastic you consume—and the dough you dish out—on the regular. This Breville version extracts 8 ounces of juice in about 5 seconds, so you can DIY and still be at work on time. The planet (and your wallet) will thank you.
KeepCup Brew Cup, $26
Less than 1 percent of the billions of disposable coffee cups used every year are recycled. This mostly comes down to the way they’re made, which prevents them from being recycled at standard plants. Coffee cup manufacturers and coffee chains are working on finding sustainable solutions, but the best fix now is to bring along a tumbler as you get your caffeine fix. Many coffee spots will even knock a few cents off the price of your latte for bringing in your own mug. It’s a win-win.
The Swag Tea Swag Set, $9.69
If you assumed all tea bags were compostable, think again. Many are sealed with polypropylene, a type of plastic. Who knew? If you needed an excuse to finally make the switch to loose leaf, this is it. These reusable organic cotton pouches can pull double duty — use them to steep a relaxing herbal infusion or bundle up herbs to flavor soups and stews.
Plastic baggies are so retro. Made from silicone, Stasher’s storage bags are a smart alternative to standard sandwich and freezer bags. These bad boys hold everything plastic pouches can, without the eco impact. They’re endlessly reusable, handle stints in the freezer (good news for meal planning enthusiasts), and hack it under heat—up to 400F.
We’ve all been there—stuck in the produce aisle wrangling with those flimsy green plastic bags that seem like they were created for the sole purpose of giving store employees a good laugh. And if that weren’t offensive enough, the bags are barely used before ending up in the trash bin (and often ultimately in our seas). Reusable drawstring bags put an end to both dramas in one swift cinch. It’s the little things in life.
It seems like a benign everyday essential, but plastic wrap is well, wasteful. It’s convenient for covering leftovers and potluck meals, true, but trust us when we say you’ll be happy to see it go. Beeswax wraps are natural and reusable alternatives that use the warmth of your hands to soften the wrap and create a seal. The breathable material also boasts antibacterial qualities that help keep food fresh. Easy as that, you cut plastic and food waste.
So while the plastic pollution crisis can feel overwhelming, the solutions to it are refreshingly doable and specific. Whether filtering water instead of buying a bottle or reusable-bagging it at the grocery store, working these micro-habits into your day will soon become second nature–and they’re as good for you as they are Mama Earth.