I saw a video  today about how our oceans are slowly becoming contaminated with tiny bits of plastic. In fact, there is a zone in the ocean approximately the size of TEXAS that is comprised of floating bits of plastic. It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the ocean. That’s only 33 years from now.

Did you know? Plastic does not biodegrade or decompose. Every single piece of plastic ever created still exists in some shape or form. Let that sink in for a minute. Think of all the plastic water bottles you’ve ever drank, any grocery bag, drinking straw you’ve ever used. These items are now tiny microscopic pieces floating around our oceans or stuck in landfills forever. What we’re doing now is not sustainable. We need to make efforts to reduce plastic waste if we want there to be a vibrant environment in which to continue living.

How to Reduce Plastic Waste | The Big Four

Fortunately, with a few small steps and changes, is relatively easy to reduce plastic waste. The often talked about ‘Big Four’ major contributors to plastic waste are: drinking straws, grocery/produce bags, coffee cups, and water bottles.

Drinking Straws

Say no to plastic straws! Do you use straws at home? Me neither. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I purposely used a straw. Do you really need a straw at a bar or restaurant? It’s an unfortunate habit that the majority of bars and restaurants automatically put a straw in your drink. I’m now taking action against this ridiculousness and am saying no to straws by asking my server not to put one in my drink. It’s an unnecessary use of single-use plastic that can be prevented by just saying no!

At home, if you’re the kind of person that does use straws on the regular, these stainless steel drinking straws are a great solution to plastic.

Grocery/Produce Bags

Reusable bags are NOT a thing of the past anymore! I’m actually quite happy to see how many people use reusable bags for shopping. Though they’re most commonly used for groceries, many reusable bags can roll up small enough to fit in your purse or pocket to be used for all of your shopping pursuits!

Continuing with the grocery shopping theme, have you seen or heard about produce bags?? These are smaller mesh bags that one uses to collect their various pieces of produce instead of those see-through plastic bags supplied by the supermarket. I’ve seen them for sale at Fortinos, but this kind on Amazon are quite affordable too!

Life Lately June 2017 | A Taste of Trace

How to Reduce Plastic Waste | A Taste of Trace
While we’re on the subject, take a look at the produce that you actually put in those plastic bags. Fruit like bananas, citrus fruit, kiwis, etc already have a protective peel that doesn’t get eaten so why bother putting them in bags! And if it’s germs you’re worried about, take an extra 5 seconds when you get home (or before you start cooking) to wash your produce (which you’d be doing anyways, right?)

Stores like Bulk Barn have a Reusable Container Program where you can to use your own containers instead of their plastic bags. It never hurts to ask! Most stores will be happy to tare your containers for you.

Coffee Cups

Did you know that coffee cups are not recyclable? They are indeed made of paper/cardboard, but they are lined with a plastic film that prevents the coffee from leaking. This plastic is what makes the cups non-recyclable. Think of how many coffee cups are consumed daily, if not hourly. And they are all single use with a lifespan of no more than an hour. Sure it’s convenient, but it’s not sustainable. Opt instead for a reusable glass coffee cup. Brands like Keep Cup and JOCO have great selections in various colours too. If glass isn’t your thing, good old Thermos has a huge range of stainless steel travel mugs and insulated bottles.

If you’re on the road and don’t have the ability to brew your coffee/tea at home, just take your reusable coffee mug to your Tim’s/Starbucks/cafe of choice and more likely than not they will fill your reusable mug for you.

Plastic Water Bottles

STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES!!! Seriously. This (among other things) is one that really gets me. Reusable water bottles are extremely affordable and can be refilled to your hearts content. Companies like Nalgene have been making reusable water bottles for ages now and they are trusted to stand the test of time. Newer companies like S’Well have really started to make a dent in the reusable water bottle industry. It’s easy to see why too – their sleek designs and fun patterns turn the would-be eye-sore into a stylish accessory.

If you’re worried about running out of water while out and about, simply ask any cafe or restaurant to refill your bottle. Most cities will have water fountains that you can use as well. We’re fortunate to live in a developed country where tap water is totally safe to drink. If you’re still not convinced, get a filtering system (Brita or similar) for your home.

Final Thoughts

These small steps for how to reduce plastic waste are all valid in theory, but in order to make a difference, you have to remember to actually use them! Keep a stash of canvas bags in your car. Make space in your purse for a reusable shopping bag. Say NO! to drinking straws at restaurants. Get yourself a reusable water bottle and actually use it!

Small steps can make a big difference. If nothing else, start paying attention to how much plastic waste accumulates in your daily life. You might be surprised enough to start implementing the aforementioned changes!

Bulk Barn's Reusable Container Program | A Taste of Trace

Tell me, will you try any of these tips for how to reduce plastic waste?

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