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Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. But what’s even more mind-blowing is that it takes up to 400 years for it to break down due to the additives it contains. That said, doing away with single use plastics seems nearly impossible, though there are several solutions worth considering. From the benefits of using reusables to why rethinking your shopping habits can have a major impact, here’s what you should know.

Single-use plastic and your beverages

By 2016, the year sales of bottled weather in the United States surpassed those of soft drinks, highlighting just how popular it had become. However, these bottles are a major source of pollution, and are often found in bodies of water around the world. While many efforts are taking place to reduce the effects of plastic bottles on the environment – such as recycling efforts seen used by clothing brands to Kenya’s ban on single use plastics at beaches and in national parks, conservation areas and forests, you can make a change right at home.

When it comes to making a positive change in everyday life, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles can easily be done by replacing them with a reusable water bottle. Using a reusable thermos for hot beverages like coffee can make a difference too, as disposable coffee cups can also have a severe impact on the environment due to their plastic lining. In fact, a 2017 report from the UKs House of Commons Environmental Committee found that just one in 400 cups end up being recycled, with the rest generally heading to the landfill. By investing in a reusable water bottle and thermos, you’ll not only positively contribute to the environment, but you’ll save money in the long run as well.

Cutting down on waste via reusable diapers

While plastic bottles have a major impact on the environment, many may not realize just how bad other single use items, like diapers, have as well. Considering the amount that each child uses until they are fully toilet trained, investing in a set of reusable cloth diapers can be majorly beneficial to both the environment and your wallet. In fact, reusable diapers use 3.5 times less energy, 8 times less non-renewable materials, and 90 times less renewable resources than disposables. Furthermore, cloth diapers are very easy to clean; it can be done right at home with a simple yet thorough washing process.

The value of new shopping habits

Grocery shopping is an essential part of life, though many may not realize the sheer impact that it can have on the environment. For instance, we use a plastic bag for an average of just 12 minutes while they take hundreds of years to break down, showcasing the sheer amount of waste that comes with single use, plastic shopping bags. While switching to reusable shopping bags can be a game changer regarding making your shopping routine more eco-friendly, however, there are additional things that can be done to lessen your impact on the environment. For example, foregoing the use of produce bags, and looking for produce that doesn’t come in plastic packaging can further reduce plastic waste. Shopping at bulk stores (where bringing your own container is encouraged), or simply opting for the farmer’s market are also great solutions.

Reducing your single-use plastic waste can seem nearly impossible, especially when you realize just how prominent plastic is in our daily lives. However, by swapping to reusables and adopting eco-friendly shopping techniques, you can successfully reduce the amount of plastic you use.