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9 Swaps the Whole Family Can Make to Reduce Plastic Waste

September 18, 2018

9 Swaps the Whole Family Can Make to Reduce Plastic Waste

More plastic than fish in the ocean?

What sounds like a sci-fi horror flick is actually an unfortunate potential future reality. The World Economic Forum predicts that if current consumer trends with disposable plastics continue, plastic will outnumber fish pound per pound by 2050.

Luckily, even the smallest effort can go a long way. With up to 90% of the plastic we use getting sent to landfills after just one single use, the quickest place to start is by refusing single-use plastic. Here are nine additional ways you and your family can cut down on your plastic waste:

1. Skip the straw (or BYO)

After you've finished sipping that smoothie or iced latte, you can throw out the plastic straw and forget about it, right?

Turns out, there's a bit more to it than that. Straws are one of the biggest threats to aquatic life—they're too lightweight to make it through typical mechanical recycling sorters, so they end up either in landfills or in the ocean. In fact, an estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.

And with Americans using up to 390 million straws per day, even one small refusal could save a sea life. We recommend refusing a disposable plastic straw in favor a reusable glass, bamboo, or steel one.  

2. Pack lunches in a metal container

No more brown bagging it…or plastic bagging it, for that matter. A metal tiffin (AKA a stainless steel container) is the perfect vessel for bringing lunch to work. They're inherently temperature controlled, last for ages, and are already divided into compartments—effectively eliminating the need for plastic bags.

Metal tiffins are great for kids' school lunches, too; they're sturdy enough to withstand daily backpack tosses and water bottle spills.

3. Get a reusable coffee cup

Can't start your morning without a java pick-me-up? Unfortunately, the interiors of most takeaway coffee cups (at major coffee chains and small cafes alike) are lined with plastic—meaning the entire cup can't be easily recycled along with other paper items.

If you're able to, bring your own reusable cup to the cafe, or bring coffee from home. We recommend one made of glass, which won't alter the flavor of hot or cold beverages.

4. Consider cloth diapering

The average baby goes through somewhere in the range of a whopping 3,000 to 4,000 diapers a year. All those disposables add up: Diapers are the third largest consumer items in landfills. Altogether, as a nation we go through enough diapers each year to fill Yankee Stadium 15 times over (quite the visual!). And because the average diaper is lined with polyethylene film—more or less the same stuff as plastic wrap—it can take up to 500 years to decompose.

There are several eco-friendly disposable diapers available on the market, or you can opt to use cloth diapers. (Cloth diapers often have a steep upfront price, so consider asking around in your extended circle to see if anyone is selling or giving away some that their children have outgrown.)

Cloth diapers need to be washed every day or every other day. After disposing of solid waste, pre-treat stains with a natural stain remover. When you're ready to wash the diapers, run the water at the highest temperature setting. Add 12-18 diapers at a time, and add free & clear laundry detergent that won't irritate baby's sensitive skin.

Avoid using fabric softeners, as this can reduce the absorbency of the diaper.

5. Spit out that gum

Conventional gum is made from polyethylene, a molecule that's also used to make plastic bottles and bags. To avoid chewing on (or worse, swallowing!) plastic, consider making the switch to organic breath mints from our sister company, Simply Natural. With only three organic ingredients, they're the cleanest mints on the market, and our tin packaging is both reusable and recyclable.

6. DIY reusable produce bags

If you're already carrying your own reusable tote to the grocery store to avoid using plastic bags, you can take it a step further—by bringing your own produce bags, too.

Not only do reusable bags reduce waste, but they're also sturdier and provide better protection than the flimsy, easily-torn plastic bags available in most grocery stores.

Plus, if you make your own, they cost next to nothing. Zero Waste Chef has an easy tutorial for homemade cloth produce bags. You can also use any small bags you have lying around. (Some grocery stores also sell designated mesh bags for produce.)

7. Opt for plastic that's recycled (or is recyclable)

Not all plastic is created equally. The plastic with the lowest environmental impact is easily recycled, such as Polyethylene Terephthalate, aka PET(E). PET(E) is identifiable by a #1 on the recycling logo, and is globally recognized as a safe, non-toxic, strong, reusable material that is 100% recyclable.

All Puracy bottles, pumps, sprayers, and caps are made from PET(E).

8. Bring biodegradable baggies

When we say whole family, we mean whole family—including Fido! Reduce your waste as a pet parent by bringing biodegradable waste bags on walks.

But before you purchase them, make sure you know what you're buying. According to the dog-walking website Rover, the world of compostable bags isn't always well-regulated; the label "biodegradable" may be somewhat misleading, depending on where you throw away the bag. When switching to eco-friendly poop bags, double check the manufacturer for its recommended disposal practices.

9. Open a bottle of (plastic-free) wine

You've worked hard to save our planet, and now you deserve a nice bottle of wine. But some wines use synthetic corks made of plastic compounds. You can easily avoid those by using CORKwatch to look up whether a particular brand and variety of wine uses natural corks. According to the website, buying bottles that use natural cork promotes sustainable cork harvesting and supports the conservation of nearly 7 million acres of cork forests.

At Puracy, we're committed to ensuring a safe future for our children and our planet. We believe even the smallest steps have a big impact, which is why we never use harsh chemicals or petroleum-based ingredients in our products. We also offer bulk refill pouches—which save more than 90% in plastic, water & energy—and we use only high-quality recyclable plastics.