18 ways to live with less plastic

(WFXR) — It’s no secret that plastic is harming the planet, overflowing landfills, and polluting oceans. But what’s not talked about enough is how we can reduce our use of plastic on a daily basis.

Humans have generated more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste since 1950, and while recycling efforts have grown in recent years, only 9 percent of it has actually been reused.

There are many simple changes we can all make to reduce the amount of waste we produce.

With the help of Stacker and Experience Life, WFXR shares 18 ways you can live with less plastic:

1. Invest in a reusable glass or stainless-steel water bottle. In the United States, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day. 

2. Opt for cloth rather than disposable diapers. Americans discard some 20 billion plastic diapers annually.

3. Bring your favorite mug or travel container to the coffee shop for filling up. Some businesses offer discounts if you use this option.

4. Many companies have already hopped on this one– skip the plastic straw.

5. Stock up on reusable grocery bags. Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

6. Pass on prepared frozen foods: The packaging is mostly plastic or cardboard coated with plastic.

7. Skip the chewing gum — it’s pretty much made from plastic.

8. Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters, or invest in a refillable metal lighter.

9. Avoid plastic wrap to cover leftovers, cheeses, and other refrigerated food by using a dishcloth or parchment paper.

10. Cook with cast iron instead of nonstick pans. Teflon, the most common nonstick surface, is a fluoropolymer plastic.

11. Make your own cleaning products. They’re less toxic, and you can reuse spray bottles, eliminating the need for multiple plastic bottles filled with cleaners.

12. Decline plastic flatware with your takeout orders; pick up bamboo or other reusable flatware for picnics and traveling.

13. Buy food in bulk when possible and pack it in your own reusable jars or containers. You’ll save money and limit unnecessary packaging.

14. Bring your own containers for vegetables and fruits to the farmers’ market, where you can refill them.

15. Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Skip foods packed in single-serving plastic cups.

16. Mix up your own hand salves, lotion bars, and deodorants instead of buying personal-care items sold in plastic containers. Coconut oil is a great base for all of these.

17. Replace your plastic containers with a set of reusable glass storage containers for leftovers.

18. Compost your food waste to reduce the number of plastic bags needed to haul it to the landfill.

While 18 changes may be too much to take on at once, you can always choose one or two goals to focus on at first. Any conscious effort to reduce waste is a win for the environment.

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