This post below is from Hennepin County:
Plastics are common because they are cheap, lightweight, and versatile. More than one-third of plastics are used for packaging, including food packaging, grocery bags, and straws, which are all items that get tossed after one use. Plastic use has increased 20 times since the 1960s and will continue to increase if changes aren’t made.
The amount of plastic we use is problematic because:
- Most plastics are made from oil. About 4% to 8% of the world’s oil production is for plastics.
- Many plastics can’t be recycled. In Hennepin County, less than half of the total plastic generated is recycled.
- Plastics collect in our lakes and rivers and break down into micro and nanoplastics. These are threats for birds and wildlife and have known and unknown concerns for human health.
- Micro and nanoplastics have been found in our soil, water, and food. About 60% of microplastics come from high-income countries in the form of tire dust, pellets, textiles, and personal care products.
Your plastic footprint
When you’re starting a journey to use less plastic, a good first step is to quantify your personal impact. By estimating the waste you create, you can decide what to focus on during these four weeks. The Omni Calculator plastic footprint calculator is one such calculator that you could use.
Replacing disposables with reusables
Once you have a better idea how much plastic you use, get started today with these five simple swaps for single-use items:
|Plastic bags: Start using your reusable bags for groceries, produce, and more, including clothing, shoes, gifts, or whatever you buy. Keep some bags near your door or in the car for easy access.Plastic storage baggies: Plenty of alternatives for plastic zip bags exist. Use reusable containers in glass, ceramic, metal, or choose reusable snack bags.Plastic utensils: Start by bringing your own reusable utensils for your home packed meals, then start refusing disposable utensils when they are offered in restaurants or to-go. Find a few reusable utensils at a thrift store if you don’t want to risk losing pieces of your regular set.Plastic wrap: Use reusable containers with lids for storing foods, place a plate over a bowl in the refrigerator, or try an option like beeswax cloth to wrap over the top of your containers.Straws: Cut back your use or eliminate plastic straws by using a reusable straw instead. Request no straw when you place orders in person or online.|