Plastic is known for its durability, but its long-lasting nature is a double-edged sword. Unlike other materials, plastic does not naturally break down, so the plastic bottle that binds its way to the sea is likely to remain there for a very long time.
The problem of discarded plastic is so extreme that a manmade island has sprung up in the middle of the ocean. Known as the Pacific Garbage Patch, this manmade monstrosity is huge - and getting larger with every passing day.
If you want to stop contributing to this problem and live a greener lifestyle, there are things you can do to reduce your use of plastic. Making a few simple changes in how you live your life could make a huge difference for the environment.
Ditch the Plastic Grocery Bags
Plastic grocery bags make up a huge amount of the plastic waste finding its way to the environment. The easiest way to reduce your environmental impact and your use of plastic is to invest in a few reusable grocery bags.
Grocery bags made of cloth, burlap and other sustainable materials make shopping easier and more environmentally friendly. Just keep a reusable bag or two in your car, or tuck one in your purse. When the grocery store clerk asks "paper or plastic?" you can just smile and whip out your own shopping bag.
Watch the Packaging
When you go shopping, make the amount of packaging one of the factors you consider. Some manufacturers wrap their products in heavy plastic packaging, while others use more environmentally sustainable materials to keep their items safe. Choosing the latter over the former is a great way to vote with your dollars.
Over time, millions of consumers making wise purchasing decisions may convince manufacturers to pay more attention to the packaging they use. Using less plastic packaging is good for the environment and ultimately good for consumers as well.
Make Your Own Bottled Water
You may think bottled water is better for you, but taste tests and scientific studies have not borne that out. In blind taste tests, drinkers routinely chose tap water over expensive brands of bottled water, and scientists have found high levels of contaminants in fancy bottled water as well.
Do yourself and the earth a favor by making your own bottled water. Just choose a quality glass container, turn on the tap, put the cap in place and go. You can enjoy your own home-bottled water wherever you go for only pennies a gallon – and the glass will not leach chemicals into the water like plastic can.
Bring Your Own Mug
If you cannot start the day without a fancy latte or cappuccino, take your reusable mug with you before you leave home. You can enjoy your favorite beverage in your own mug, without the guilt and environmental degradation associated with disposable plastic and Styrofoam containers.
Many coffee shops even provide a discount for customers who bring their own mugs, so you could save a few pennies along the way. Either way, you will feel good knowing that you are doing something good for the environment.
Take a Set of Silverware to Work
You probably have a few extra forks and spoons hanging around your cutlery drawer, so why use disposable plastic silverware at the office? Just take a set of silverware to work with you and enjoy your lunch in style.
You will reduce the amount of plastic you use and discard, and you will not have to worry about breaking a fork as you enjoy your midday meal.
Watch What You Wear
Make a conscious decision to choose your clothes with the environment in mind. Natural fabrics like bamboo are long-lasting and durable as well as lightweight and comfortableMany shoppers do not know that polyester and nylon are both made from petrochemicals – the same petrochemicals that make plastic such an environmental hazard.
As you can see, you do not have to radically change your lifestyle to reduce your impact on the environment. A few simple changes to your everyday life can reduce the amount of plastic you use and possibly even help save the planet.