Reduce and reuse are at the front of the phrase "reduce, reuse and recycle" for a reason. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. In other words, reuse things so that there isn't a need to produce more.
A new product takes a lot of materials and energy to create -- from the extraction of raw materials to transportation of the product.
Little actions to reduce waste turn into meaningful habits that save natural resources, reduce pollutants and save money.
1. Ditch plastic bags
Every year, between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic are entering our oceans, according to a study published in the journal Science. Sea turtles often mistaken plastic bags for jellyfish and mistakenly ingest them, which can be fatal. This pollutant affects more than just sea turtles, though. It affects all marine life and destroys its habitat.
[READ: Endangered sea turtle rescued off the coast]
One plastic bag takes 10-20 years to decompose, according to the National Park Service.
Use reusable grocery bags instead of the plastic and paper ones to help reduce pollution and waste.
Here are a few tips to help you remember your reusable bags and ditch those plastic ones.
- Keep extra bags in your trunk.
- Store bags by the front door or by your keys, so you can easily grab them on the way out.
- Keep a compressible nylon bag on your keychain.
- Write "bags" on the top of your grocery list.
- Leave reminders on your phone or on a sticky note in your car or on your front door
#GivingTuesday to stop plastic pollution! Because no one wants an ocean with more plastic than 🐠...Posted by Plastic Pollution Coalition on Tuesday, November 28, 2017
2. Cancel unnecessary mail
This is an easy one. Just make a few simple calls and get off mailing lists, which not only saves paper but space on your kitchen counter.
3. Use reusable water bottles
Plastic bottles never fully biodegrade, according to the National Park Service. The single-use bottles break down into smaller pieces of plastic, called microplastic, that linger on our land and in our waters.
Instead of the single-use plastic bottles, stay hydrated with an eco-friendly, reusable bottle.
4. Put your fine China to use
Maybe don't use your nicest dish set for every meal, but using washable dishes and utensils cuts out waste from disposable dishware.
5. Think twice about takeout
Getting food to go creates waste from the one-time packaging it comes in. Here are a few things you can do to minimize that waste.
- Eat in.
- Bring your own reusable containers.
- Call the restaurant ahead of time to see if it can accommodate you bringing your own take-out containers.
- Sit in, wait until they bring the food out, then transfer it to your containers.
- Be polite and respectful to the staff if they refuse to use your container.
6. Say no to plastic straws, and while you're at it, say no to plastic cups, too
Many have been ditching plastic straws since a video of a sea turtle with one lodged into its nostril went viral.
While you're sipping on a reusable straw, go one step further by having a reusable cup, too. Starbucks sells a variety of hot and iced reusable coffee cups starting at $1, and the best part is that when you bring in your reusable cup, it knocks 10 cents off your order.
[READ: Starbucks eliminates plastic straws I Seattle bans plastic straws]
500 million plastic straws are used every day in the U.S. Challenge your friend to #StopSucking on plastic straws! https://stopsucking.strawlessocean.org/i/ppc The Last Plastic Straw Lonely WhalePosted by Plastic Pollution Coalition on Wednesday, August 9, 2017