Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste Today

by Anna Autilio
Lead, Environmental Educator
In 2018, we mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate 2018 as the “Year of the Bird.” June’s call to action is to reduce our use of plastic, to help eliminate this choking devastation on our ecosystems…
When you go to the beach this summer, think about this: the greatest threat to wildlife on land is the loss of habitat, but the greatest threat to life in the ocean is plastic garbage.
It seems that more and more often, we hear a news stories about a whale or seabird that has died from eating plastic waste. Despite the fact that the Earth’s oceans are incredibly vast, covering 70% of the planet’s surface, human life has made an unmistakable impact on the wildlife that calls the sea home.
We can easily help fix this problem, just by making choices about our lifestyles now. Though the actions appear small, the cultural shift actions can bring about has the potential to be one of the most important environmental triumphs we have ever seen.
Here are just a few ways you can help. Can you think of other we’ve missed?
1. Carry a reusable water bottle or coffee cup, and don’t buy bottled water. Tap water is no less healthy, and much safer for the planet.
2. Use reusable shopping bags. Many stores encourage this practice now, and will actually give you discounts for using your cloth shopping bags!
3. Say no to plastic straws and cutlery. Paper plates are better—but better still are your own dishes and metal utensils. Absolutely need a straw for that thick milkshake? You can buy metal ones!
4. Choose foods packaged in paper rather than plastic. There are many great examples—bread, fruits and veggies in paper bags, boxed laundry detergent, eggs in recycled paper containers. Glass is also preferable for things like peanut butter and soda.  
5. Bring your own containers to restaurants to package leftovers. Don’t waste food, or Styrofoam—bring a glass container to put your leftovers in.
6. Use bar soap (packaged in cardboard) over liquid body wash (packaged in plastic).
7. Use paper to wrap delicate packages, instead of bubble-wrap. Got junk mail? Crinkle it up into balls and help cradle your items that way.
8. Avoid food with excessive packaging altogether. We all know the ones—a single lollipop packaged in 4 layers of plastic. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but do you really need all that?
9. Use a metal razor or a bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one. The metal can be recycled, and the bamboo will biodegrade within 6 months.
10. Just think twice. Before you buy something made of plastic or packaged in plastic, ask yourself if there might be an alternative. Get in the habit of examining all your options, and thinking about the long-term as well as the short-term impact on the environment.
Join us in our effort this month at VINS to eliminate our plastic waste! Together we can help keep our environment clean and healthy.

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