Why do I recommend avoiding plastic?
+ Plastic is made from petroleum, AKA fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
+ A lot of plastic is swept out to sea as litter or due to purposeful dumping. Some of it ends up in the world's 5 gyres (like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Some of it breaks up into tiny pieces called nurdles that end up in the sand or are ingested by marine life. When fish it plastic, it bioaccumulates, meaning it builds as you go up the food chain, so big fish like tuna are more apt to have plastic residue in them. If you eat fish, you are most likely eating plastic.
+ Plastic never biodegrades, so all the plastic out there in the ocean is going to be there for millennia.
+ A lot of plastic is designed to be thrown away (like plastic cutlery, water bottles, straws, shampoo bottles, etc.) They are designed to keep you coming back for more. It is unsafe to re-use this kind of plastic because the chemicals will leach through over time. Plastic will break down into smaller pieces instead of biodegrading. So these plastics have a short usefulness period and an outrageously long lifespan.
+ Plastic contains chemicals like BPA, pthalates, and parabens. Plastic is a relatively new thing; it's only been around since WWII. Our society jumped into using it wholeheartedly before researching the possible negative side-effects (we do that a lot, don't we?). We now know that many plastics contain BPA, and that using such plastics can increase your risk of breast cancer.
+ Reusable, plastic-free options typically last longer and only need to be bought once and replaced every few years, so you save money in the long run.
The two easiest ways to reduce your plastic use?
+ Swap out plastic grocery bags for re-usable ones! Paper bags have their own issues, so skip the waste altogether and bring your own bag to the store. Ideally this would be made of cotton, hemp, or some other natural material. You can also bring smaller cloth bags for produce, too, or even your own mason jars for bulk goods. Try these from Simple Ecology:
+ Stop using disposable water bottles! Some brands of bottled water are literally tap water that's been put in a plastic bottle and sold to you for three times the price. Bottled water is ridiculous when you really think about it; most of us have cheap water coming out of our tap, and it's easy to pour some into a reusable glass or aluminum bottle. It's a good idea to invest in a water purifier that attaches to your faucet, since tap water can contain chemical residues and other impurities, and then just pour that into a reusable water bottle. Easy! I recommend a glass water bottle since it doesn't have that weird metal taste that aluminum or stainless steel bottles sometimes have. I've been using this super nice glass water bottle from Life Factory: