Simple tips to reduce your plastic consumption

Plastic excessive usage is one of the major challenges for modern society. We have all seen pictures of beaches throughout the world, which are now covered in plastic garbage, floating plastic islands, and animals suffocated with plastic bags. This needs to stop. And you can start now !

Following tips represent immediate steps you can take to reduce your plastic consumption today:

1-  STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS

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The U.S. consumes around 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, and globally, around 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year.

So what can you do to stop using plastic bags? It’s simple !

  • Have your own reusable grocery bags with you when you go shopping

Purchase large and sturdy reusable bags to help reduce plastic landfills. The best types to choose are cotton bags, as nylon and polyester are also made from plastic.

My favorite are the foldable grocery tote that you can just always have in your purse.

  • Frequent stores that use paper

I am sure you noticed that some stores (like Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s) use paper over plastic. The good news is there are an increasing number of retailers who are switching from plastic to paper.

2- SKIP THE PACKAGING

Packaging is another big generator of plastic. Unfortunately unpackaged foods and home goods are a rarity in the modern supermarket. The good news is that it’s changing !

See below a list of options for waste-free, package-free shopping:

  • Integral Yoga Natural Foods 

This store offers all-vegetarian natural foods, seasonal produce and an extensive selection of bulk foods.

Where To Find It:

West Village, New York City

229 W 13th St

Monday to Friday : 8am-9.30pm

Saturday: 8am-8.30pm

Sunday: 9am-8.30pm

  • Buy in Bulk at Whole Foods

What can you buy in bulk? Rice, grains, flours, pasta, soup mixes, beans, cereals, trail mixes, nut butters, sweeteners, dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Many of the stores also have bulk herbs, spices, salts and peppercorns. And some of the stores have bulk teas and coffee too.

The process is easy. You just have to fill the bag or container (provided by Whole Foods) with the amount you want and to write down the number you see on the bin on a twist tie or label to place on the bag or container.

Where To Find It:

Look at the Whole Food store list to find the closest store.

  • Package Free 

Package Free sells bulk home goods and bath & body products. All you need is a mason jar, and if you’re in need of one, you can even buy one there.

Where To Find It:

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

137 Grand Street
Open Daily 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

  • The Fillery 

When The Fillery’s founder Sarah Metz first moved to Brooklyn, the visible waste in New York inspired her to take action towards lessening food and packaging-related waste at a local level.

Where To Find It :

Follow along their journey on their blog as they move closer to opening.

  • Go to the closest Farmer Market

Of course, you needn’t look further than your neighborhood farmers’ market for fresh produce, dairy, baked goods, and the like. Come prepared with containers to tote your fresh-off-the-farm purchases for a zero-waste trip and while you’re at it, bring your compost to drop off stations housed at many NYC farmers’ markets.

Where To Find It:

There are over 50 greenmarkets across the five boroughs and you can find the one nearest to you here.

 

However, If you end up going to a Supermarket where all the goods are packaged, look for items in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bottles. For instance, pick pasta in a box instead of a plastic bag. Look for companies who source their cardboard sustainably.

3- AVOID USING STRAWS

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Think of how much plastic can be reduced if everyone gave up drinking out of plastic straws … When eating and drinking out, inform your server that you don’t need one as drinks in America almost always come with a straw.

4- STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER

Get yourself a refillable, reusable water bottle and fill it up!

My favorite reusable plastic bottle is the Dopper. There are very light, well designed, easy to transport and can be put in the dishwasher !

5- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR TACKEAWAY CONTAINERS 

American diets consisted of only a third takeout or home-delivered only a few decades ago. In 2009, almost 50% of the $1.2 trillion that Americans spent for food went to food that was taken out from restaurants or delivered to their homes. The problem is that most of our takeaway lunch bags contain plastic cutlery and plastic containers.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when ordering takeaway food:

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  • Reuse the plastic containers

Instead of throwing them away as soon as emptied, bring the containers home, rinse them and reuse them to storage food in the fridge.

  • Skip the cutlery

While France has passed a major ban on plastic cups and cutlery, coming into effect in 2020, there are still some progress to do in the US.

The least complicated way to do this is to use your own utensils whenever when you order at home or during your lunch break.

 

Wouldn’t you agree that these are easy tips? Start practicing plastic reduction and elimination today ! The earth’s future is depending on each one of us.

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