We live in a consumer-driven world. And that world leaves a lot of waste behind – waste that lasts a lifetime. So rather than be part of the problem we’ve identified five single-use items that you need to stop using. And we even found items that you can use to replace them.
As millennials, we are very conscious about our environment and are obviously put off by any products that could destroy our eco-systems such as single-use items. So far, we’ve been good at accepting that we need to radically change our consumption habits, but here are five things that you can throw out in the trash (actually, don’t) that you can stop using today.
Don’t forget that, even though it may not feel like it, all that toilet paper comes from trees, making it one of the most impactful single-use items. By using toilet paper, you’re contributing towards forestry and the destruction of the environment, especially in rainforests and places where species are going extinct by the day. According to Natural Living Ideas, “the United States is the world’s biggest buyer of toilet paper using 130 rolls per capita per year. The process of manufacturing toilet paper is tremendously wasteful. Old-growth forests are cut down, water is wasted and there is a huge waste of energy to manufacture and transport the product. Chemicals used in the manufacturing process only make matters worse Although chlorine bleaches the pulp and makes the paper white and soft, it is a toxin that pollutes local water sources.”
Alternative: Get a bidet installed at home. Bidets use a stream of water to cleanse instead of toilet paper. You can also purchase portable travel bidets.
Plastic zipper bags
How many of these single use items in the form of resealable bags do you think you’ve gone through over the years? More than 58 million Ziploc backs are used every year in the United States alone. And they are made out of linear low-density polyethylene film (LDPE), which contributes towards atmospheric contaminants and greenhouse gasses.
Alternative: Switch to washable cloth variations of Ziploc containers or simply start using eco-friendly lunchboxes to store your leftovers.
Plastic water bottles
Billions upon billions of litres of bottled water are sold on an annual basis, and only a quarter of them are recycled. The remaining water bottles that are discarded become pollution on their own and they also absorb organic pollutants around them. This magnifies the pollution problem in the water and the soil. Animals drink water that contains small plastic particles and one-tenth of plastic created (much from water bottles) ends up in the ocean.
Alternative: Consider buying a high-quality water filter system for your home or simply use refillable glass water bottles that don’t need to be disposed of every time you have a drink.
America, alone, uses enough straws each year to circle the earth 2.5 times. And, while some homes use straws more than others, it takes 200 years to break down a plastic straw and they almost always end up as litter, because plastic straws are hard to recycle.
Alternative: Purchase reusable glass or stainless steel straws.
Plastic shopping bags
The plastic bags used in North America alone requires, twelve million barrels of oil to produce, with the average home going through approximately 1,500 packets every year. And less than 1% of these bags are recycled, despite efforts from stores to set up recycling systems for their customers to use.
The rest of them end up on landfill sites, as discarded litter, and inevitably they land up in the ocean. 80% of ocean litter comes from the land and over 100,000 marine animals are killed because of plastic bags each year.
So when you go on your next big grocery ship, make sure that you avoid these items like a plague and do your little bit to make a difference. Omitting single-use items across the board could go a long way towards fixing our broken ecosystems.