If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Everyone’s heard the phrase, and though we think it sounds a tad judgmental, nowhere is it more true than in the case of plastic pollution. Plastic is no longer just a problem, it’s a full-blown environmental crisis, as these mind-boggling figures illustrate:
- Since production of plastic took off in the 1950s — when Life magazine extolled a future of “Throwaway Living”— the planet has accumulated 9.2 billion tons of plastic. That’s about 1.3 tons for every man, woman and child on Earth.
- Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally. In the United States, it’s less than 10 percent.
- Between 5.3 million and 14 million tons of plastic annually reaches the ocean, where it kills millions of sea creatures. Meanwhile, estimates for how long it could take for the plastic to biodegrade range “from 450 years to never.” The United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean has described the situation as an “ocean armageddon.”
- Half the plastic that’s been manufactured was produced in the last 15 years. Yikes!
At Truman’s, we definitely want to be part of the solution by making it easy for everyone to use far less plastic in household cleaners. But we know that’s just a drop in the (metal) bucket. So we compiled a list of 12 other great, easy ways to reduce our reliance on plastic.
- Reuse shopping bags: Obvious, right? More communities are banning plastic bags, but if yours isn’t one of them, carry reusable bags in the car so you’ll never be without. Scary wake-up figures: Approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used every year in the United States laid end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times. (If you want a different perspective on the issue, check out the video Plastic Bag. It’s “narrated” by a bag that travels the world as it confronts its immortality!)
- Only use bottled water if the alternative would put your health at risk. Always keep a refillable bottle handy.
- Ditch the plastic bottles and reach for the glass: In 2017, the Coca-Cola Company alone revealed it makes about 128 billion plastic bottles a year. Things may go better with Coke, but glass bottles are better for the planet and make Cokes (and everything else) taste better, too.
- Don't order to-go hot drinks. That plastic cup and lid will outlive your children! Bring your own mug or ask for a reusable cup.
- Straws: The end of plastic straws may be on the horizon, but until then, ask for paper straws or invest in metal ones. They’re cool and colorful. If you need more encouragement, watch the video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw up its nose. Or you can just imagine it.
- Buy powdered detergent in boxes and soap in bars. Bar soaps are as sanitary as those pump dispensers, maybe more so!
- Use cloth diapers. It’s estimated that 20 billion disposable diapers are added to U.S. landfills each year. That’s way grosser than anything your baby will ever churn out.
- Buy products like pickles and jams in glass jars, then use them for storing leftovers instead of plastic containers.
- Buy chips, bread and everything else you can — including toilet paper — wrapped in paper, not plastic.
- Use recycled plastic when you can: Your cat will never know its litter box came from Goodwill.
- Read ingredients of skin-care products, especially scrubbers and exfoliants, for the words “polyethylene” or “polypropylene.” They mean the product contains tiny plastic beads that end up in the ocean and fish mistake for food. Yuck.
- Celebrate your plastic-reduced life with a hat-toss, not a balloon release. To feel really good, knit the hat yourself before tossing.
Have other suggestions? Send them our way! We might just add them to the list!