Blog Post By: Skyler Klingshirn (summer sea turtle intern)
Plastic pollution is becoming an increasing problem all around the world. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight. Clearly this is a very startling statistic. While it is important to recycle, in 2014 only about 10% of discarded plastic was actually recycled in America and with how much plastic we use in our day to day lives, we are now at the point where more needs to be done. I am especially passionate about reducing my own plastic use because I have seen on multiple beaches and areas all the single use plastic and waste that gets left behind to pollute our ocean. Recently, I have started making simple changes in my life to try to reduce my use of plastic as much as possible and I am going to share 7 simple switches you can make too!
2. To-Go Ware
Single-use plastic silverware is one of the top 10 finds of trash by the Ocean Conservancy. A lot of times when we’re in a rush, we need to stop by the store or a fast food restaurant to pick up a snack, however, with the convenience of fast food comes single-use silverware. To avoid this problem, I keep a pack of To-Go Ware in my car or attached to my keys whenever I am out running errands. To-Go Ware includes a bamboo fork, spoon, knife, and set of chopsticks in a little case that makes it easy to take with you anywhere that can be washed when you get back home to be used again.
4. Reusable Produce Bags
This is a switch I just recently made. Every time we go to the grocery store, we place our produce in thin plastic bags to go home, put away our fruits and vegetables then just discard the bags. I felt this was very wasteful, so I switched to reusable produce bags I found online. They are made of mesh with a drawstring, machine washable, and were inexpensive. I now just keep them in my reusable grocery bags, so I have them with me when I go to the store.
5. Reusable Snack Bags
I love the convenience of plastic Ziploc baggies, but I hate how, again, we use them one time and then they are thrown away. I often use Tupperware containers to carry snacks, but sometimes I only need a small bag and do not want to use bulky containers. Like many of my reusable items, I went online and found reusable snack bags that are freezer safe, dishwasher safe, and prevent you from constantly having to buy more plastic baggies. I now have a couple that I am able to use to bring snacks with me to work and I was even able to use one as a waterproof bag to hold my phone while out kayaking one day.
7. Buying foods without packaging
If you go into any supermarket, it is obvious how much waste there is just in the packaging our favorite foods come in. While there are some items packaged in plastic that cannot be avoided, it is possible to try and shop smarter. For example, a few weeks ago I went to Bi Lo for groceries. I was planning on picking up a pineapple, however, when I walked back to the produce section, the only pineapple they had was precut and packaged in plastic containers. At first, I was upset because I was looking forward to enjoying one of my favorite fruits after the store but did not want to contribute to unnecessary plastic waste. I searched around some more and found many other fruits that were not packaged and settled for a couple mangoes and kiwis. I had only had mango a few times before this trip, but figured it would be a suitable replacement for the pineapple and I now have a new favorite fruit. While that is just one simple example, trying out different foods that have no packaging or less packaging than your normal go-to foods is a great way to reduce waste and even discover some new favorite foods!
While switching to no plastic right away can seem like an impossible task, just making a couple swaps here and there can add up to make a big difference. In today’s world, every little bit helps and hopefully you all are able to give some of these a try!
Sea Turtle Biologist