Like a lot of people who are drawn to the water, I don’t think it was one particular event that made me realize how insane the plastic problem really is. Today, all you have to do is go to any local beach to see the catastrophe firsthand. As a young kid, I remember walking Cedar Beach with my mom in search of shells and beach glass without seeing any plastic, besides the occasional bag or bottle that would fly off a boat by accident. Now, you can’t look five inches in the sand without seeing a piece of plastic – and a lot of what you see is just a few millimeters in size, which is the worst for marine life. If observing that change in 30 years doesn’t evoke some kind of change in your life, I don’t know what else will.
Thankfully, there are small changes each person can make in their own lives to limit plastic dependence. I found that the most effective place to start is with simpler ideas first, adopt those, and then go from there gradually shifting the ways you consume. Here are just a few ideas for breaking up with plastic:
No plastic water bottles: These things are the worst. Reusable water bottles that keep water cold for three days are far superior and it’ll make your money back in like 10 refills. Two dollars a day for a plastic water bottle turns out to be over $700 a year, which is the equivalent of a flight to somewhere cool.
Paper straws: So many places are adopting these and it’s awesome to see. If you find yourself complaining about the straw getting soggy, you’re drinking your iced latte too slowly.
Canvas totes: Why do plastic bags even exist anymore? Though it makes me proud, it’s hard to believe that New York is only the second state to adopt a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
A better toothbrush: Have you ever been to one of those beaches where all the plastic seems to converge? There are SO many toothbrushes. Oh, and while we’re at it, stop buying those plastic toothpick things, you see those everywhere too.
Stop eating takeout: Seriously, It’s insane how much plastic and Styrofoam is used for two takeout meals.
Bar of soap: Cut out the liquid soap and the containers they come in. There are a ton of company’s making awesome shampoo/conditioners/body bars these days that won’t leave you feeling the “DIAL Soap Effect.”
Tumblers: If you are one of those people that drink your coffee slowly (read also: paper straws), this is perfect for you. Tumblers are so well insulated these days they keep your coffee hot or freezing for hours. Bring one into your local shop tomorrow morning – they might even toss in a discount.
These changes really are pretty simple. And once you start, it’ll catch on. Then, hopefully, people around you will notice and adopt some changes too. Oh, and keep with it. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit.