6 Ways to Use Less Plastic This Summer

Enjoy the Heat Without Creating Trash

Plastic is everywhere and has become such a common part of everyday life that using less may seem impossible. However, with some planning and organization you can do everything you would normally do, but without the plastic trash. Check out these six simple tips to use less plastic while still having an amazing summer.

The Problem with Disposable Plastic

The more plastic items used, the more that ends up as trash that fills up landfills or litter the ruins the appearance of communities and destroys the natural beauty of landscapes. Plastic trash also is a major health risk to animals and their habitats. Finding alternatives to disposable plastic items keeps this single-use trash out of the waste stream. Many reusable options are in fact made from plastic, but these are items that are easy and more likely to be recycled, so they do not contribute to the problem.

1. Stock Up on Reusable Bags

Possibly the biggest offender when it comes to plastic trash are disposable plastic shopping bags. These thin bags are hard to recycle, so they more often than not end up in the trash or as litter. Even if they are carted off to a landfill the thin construction makes it easy for a strong gust of wind to carry the bag off and away from the trash heap. On average, a single-use plastic bag is used for about 12 minutes, meaning all of these problems are the result of 12 minutes of usefulness.

Eco-friendly reusable bags come in all shapes and sizes and take care of business when it comes to toting sunscreen home from the store, a towel to the beach or odds and ends on a camping trip. Stash extra reusable bags in your car, your desk at work and leave one by your door, so you can grab it on your way out and you always have a reusable bag close by.

2. Use Reusable Drinkware

Staying hydrated is always important, but it is more so in the summer heat. Grabbing bottled water seems like a great way to get your daily water intake on the go, but not only is this expensive and potentially harmful to your health, it also generates a major amount of trash.

The simple solution is to get your own reusable drinkware. Reusable water bottles come in a wide variety of styles and colors and when empty you can easily fill it back up. One reusable water bottle can do the same job as thousands of disposable plastic bottles without taxing the environment. Don’t stop at water bottles – you can use insulated tumblers for your coffee or tea or pick up a blender bottle for your morning breakfast shake.

3. Go Strawless or Get a Reusable Straw

Reports indicate Americans use 500 million straws every day. That is a staggering number, and what’s worse is that a lot of these single-use straws end up as litter. Straws aren’t always necessary, so rethink if you really need one before you adding one to your drink and you can ask servers to skip the straw when ordering out. If you are not ready to part ways with straws consider picking up a reusable straw that you can wash and reuse again and again.

4. Pay Attention to Packaging

Whenever possible, purchase items packaged in boxes instead of plastic. Cardboard is much easier to recycle and accepted by more facilities. Better yet, purchase items in bulk and fill your own reusable containers to completely eliminate packaging. Avoid purchasing items in unnecessary packaging, like produce in plastic containers or individual items shrink-wrapped to create a family pack.

5. Skip Disposable Utensils and Containers

When hosting a cookout or picnic or going camping, it can be tempting to use disposable plates and utensils. Invest in reusable items, so you generate less trash. Make sure to pack food in reusable containers instead of single-use bags or other disposable plastic containers.

6. Get a Good Cooler

A good cooler is key to keeping drinks cold and preventing food from spoiling on summer trips and excursions. Instead of a disposable Styrofoam cooler opt for a more durable cooler that can be reused for many summers to come. Soft sided coolers provide a cooler when you need it, but also fold up to take up less space for easy storage when you don’t need it.

Use Less Plastic and Have Fun

Simply incorporating one of these tips into your routine can make a significant impact on the amount of plastic trash out there. Have you tried any of these tips? How do you use less plastic in the summer? Or any time of the year? Share your favorite tips in the comments!

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