You know that plastic, which is made from oil or natural gas, is bad for the environment. But did you know that 11% of household waste is plastic? Americans use 100 billion plastic bags each year — and it takes one plastic bag 1,000 years to degrade! You’re probably already aware that toting your reusable grocery bags when shopping helps reduce plastic waste — especially since on average one family uses 60 plastic bags in just four trips to the grocery store! You’ re likely already in the habit of bringing your own reusable water bottles everywhere you go, too. Keep up the good work, because in 2011 Americans bought 9.1 billion gallons of single use plastic water bottles. But our plastic consumption isn’t limited to grocery bags and water bottles, so this Earth Day, pledge to reduce your plastic footprint as a family. Keep reading to discover nine ways to say goodbye to plastic in your daily life, and to enter to win $100 worth of plastic-saving products from LunchSkins!
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1. Buy in Bulk
If your family eats a lot of nuts and granola you may already be buying those items in bulk; but don’t forget that you can find stores that serve up other items in bulk too, including rice, beans and pasta. Buying in bulk eliminates the use of wasteful, superfluous packaging.
2. Start a Compost Pile
If you don’t have one already, creating a compost pile can help reduce your household waste, and in turn, the number of plastic garbage bags you use. Everything from food waste and pizza boxes to Fido’s hairballs and dryer lint can be composted. Bonus: Now you’ve got great fertilizer for your garden.
3. Pack a Waste Free Lunch
Roughly 20 million sandwich bags are dumped into landfills daily. Do your part to reduce that staggering number by packing waste-free lunches for your kids. Buy a waste-free lunch kit for your kiddo that includes everything they need: a lunch box, water bottle, utensils, sandwich containers, snack containers and so on. Or, if your kid already has a bag or box, you just need to buy the containers to pack up his food. You can find cloth baggies from companies like LunchSkins, stainless steel divided dishes from Innobaby and glass containers from Wean Green for example. There’s no reason to stop at waste-free lunches either. Anytime you would reach for a plastic baggie or Ziploc, there is plastic free solution you could opt for instead — whether it’s a reusable cloth baggie or a small glass container.
4. Ditch Plastic Tupperware
Still using plastic Tupperware to package leftovers? There are plenty of great glass options available. We love Wean Green‘s offerings, sized for everything from snack portions to baby food portions, but there are lots of other brands making glass containers that are great for leftovers too. Beyond saving extras at home, you can use glass or stainless steel containers to bring home take out or pack up restaurant leftovers.
5. Use Green Diapers
When it comes to disposable diapers, you hear a lot about how many are piling up in landfills — 7.6 billion pounds a year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But you should also consider how much plastic is used to manufacture diapers. For babies in America alone, 80,000 pounds of plastic are needed to produce the number of disposable diapers used annually. Now with amazing hybrid diapers like those from gDiapers and Charlie Banana, green diapering couldn’t be easier.
6. Swap Straws
According to Be Straw Free, 500 million plastic straws are used in the US daily, which is enough to fill 127 school buses a day! Buy cups with straws built in, encourage your kids to drink from their reusable water bottles or opt for reusable metal straws. Dining out? Bring your own reusable straw and let your server know you don’t need one.
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7. Don’t Forget the Other Plastic Grocery Bag
You started bringing your own grocery bags to the market years ago, but do you still come home with a gaggle of those thin plastic produce bags? They aren’t going to biodegrade anytime soon either. Bring home your fruits and veggies bag-less, or opt for cotton or string produce bags instead. Better yet, shop at the farmer’s market, or join a CSA, where your goods aren’t likely to be packaged in plastic boxes either.
8. Shop Smart
Whether you’re buying milk, chips, coffee, peanut butter, laundry detergent or personal care products, look at the packaging. When possible, choose cardboard containers over plastic ones since they’re easier to recycle and don’t require the same fossil fuels to create.
9. Ban All Bottled Beverages
If you’ve kicked the bottled water habit, that’s great, but if you’re still drinking juice, soda, coconut water or other single use beverages, take a look at the containers you’re sipping from. Try to skip all plastic beverage bottles and opt for ones packaged in easier-to-recycle glass instead. Coffee cups are culprits too, even the cardboard kind because they usually come with plastic lids. Go lid-less or bring your own mug for your favorite shop to fill.
Win a $100 Prize Pack from LunchSkins!
This post is sponsored by LunchSkins and they’re generously giving away a $100 prize pack to help you reduce your plastic use. One lucky winner will receive $100 worth of LunchSkins products including sandwich bags, snack bags, sub bags and LunchSkins 2 packs, which are available at Target stores. The bags are made from the same material as pastry bags and can be washed easily in the dishwasher.
Here’s how to enter to win:
1) Sign up for Inhabitots’ weekly newsletters (if you haven’t already)! We’ll be notifying the winner in Inhabitots’ newsletter – so you need to sign up and receive our newsletter to find out if you have won.
3) Add a comment to this post with your answer to the following question: How does your family reduce plastic use?
NOTE: Please be patient – comments don’t appear instantly because they must be approved.
Contest ends Sunday, May 5th, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Winner will be announced in our newsletter on Friday, May, 10th 2013. Good luck!