One of the simplest ways to be eco-friendly and lower your environmental impact is to switch to reusable products. One-use products may be marketed as being more convenient in the short term, however long-term damage adds up quick. Why do we need so many plastic, one-use items? It makes more sense, financially and otherwise, to get reusable items. Traditional plates instead of paper ones. Glass cups instead of plastic. Standard knives, forks and spoons instead of plasticware. A multi-use razor rather than disposable. The list could go on and on.
Plastics and the Environment
Although single-use items can be made with a variety of materials, plastic is one of the most common. It is also one of the most harmful to the environment. Plastic takes approximately 400 years to degrade on its own. That’s an awfully long time to be sitting in a landfill or polluting the earth/ocean. In addition, National Geographic had a staggering article covering the impact of plastics to the environment:
- 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced in the past six decades (most of which were disposable products)
- Only 12% of plastic waste has been incinerated, 6.3 billion metric tons is still around and considered plastic waste
- Of that “waste”, only 9% has been recycled – this means 91% is never recycled
- Half of all plastic produced becomes trash in under a year
- 8 million metric tons of plastic per year ends up in the ocean (much of this from one-use items like plastic bags, bottles, etc.)
Reusable Options Do Exist
Single-use items weren’t always the rage. In fact, I bet if you were able to ask your grandparents or great-grandparents (or even your parents), they might tell you disposable items weren’t even available for the most part when they were growing up. When you bought something, you bought it for the long-term. Today, many people would prefer quick convenience over long-term benefits. While they may be thinking in the here and now, they sure aren’t thinking with their own carbon footprint and the environmental impact this will have in the not-to-distant future.
Fortunately, reusable options do exist. You can choose to buy and use reusable products rather than single-use or disposable. You may pay a little bit more upfront, but you’ll get way more use out of the product and you won’t be loading up landfills in the meantime.
When You Can Use This Instead of That
You may already be familiar with some of the reusable items you can use instead of single-use, but we figured we’d give you a few of our favorites (by no means a full list):
- Buy glass, stainless steel or bamboo straws instead of plastic. Of course, if you don’t have to use a straw, then all the better.
- Use mason jars or other glass containers for drinks and to store leftovers rather than plastic cups and containers.
- Opt for washable, reusable food wraps like etee instead of using plastic wrap to keep food fresh.
- Pull out the traditional silverware and household cutlery and skip the plastic plates, cups and throw-away plasticware.
- Long gone are the days where plastic and paper bags are your only school lunch choices. Instead, go for more eco-friendly containers like the plastic free and ocean friendly, ecolunchbox.
- Get yourself a stainless steel, reusable water bottle. Not only is it better for the environment, it’ll cost you a lot less money in the long run.
- Grab a few cotton, organic cloth or recycled mesh produce bags to bring to the grocery store or farmers’ market, so you can walk right on by the plastic alternatives.
- Invest in some eco-friendly, reusable totes like these ECOBAGS made from recycled cotton. It’s a much better option than paying for one-use plastic bags at checkout.
- Do yourself a favor and buy a traditional razor. No need to keep spending money on disposable razors time and time again.
- Even women can choose reusable menstrual products if they wish. Companies like organicup offer non-plastic, environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional tampons and pads.
Ditch single- or one-use for reusable
In today’s world, we have so many different choices available, ditching single- or one-use items for reusable can be pretty easy to do. It starts by making a conscious decision. Once you decide to make the change, you might be surprised at how many alternatives exist. Remember….we didn’t always have single-use, disposable products in such volume. Reusable makes sense for the environment both short-term and long-term. It also makes sense for your wallet. Check it out and you’ll see.