As Earth Day approaches, it’s time to reflect on the impact our daily habits have on the environment. One of the biggest contributors to environmental harm is single-use plastic and polystyrene foam. Single-use plastics are items such as straws, bags, and water bottles that are used once and then discarded. These items do not biodegrade, and instead, they persist in the environment for hundreds of years, causing harm to wildlife, and our ecosystems. Here are some ways to reduce single-use plastics and foam on Earth Day and all year through, some you may have already considered but are worth repeating so they become a habit. Read on to be inspired:
Calculate your plastic footprint: It’s important to understand how much plastic we use in our daily lives and how it affects the environment. The good news is that you can now calculate your plastic footprint using a free online tool provided by earthday.org. Find the calculator here.
The plastic pollution calculator is easy to use and requires you to answer a series of questions about your lifestyle and consumption habits. The tool then calculates your plastic usage and provides you with a breakdown of your plastic footprint in terms of single-use plastics, foam, packaging, and microplastics.
Once you know your plastic footprint, you can take steps to reduce it.
Refuse plastics at grocery stores, in malls, and opt for the plastic-free packaging when you’re online shopping. Write to your local grocery store and ask them how they will be reducing single-use plastic and foam packaging in their stores. Use our letter writing templates to get started.
Bring your own bags: Bring your own reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, to the farmers’ market, or any other store. This simple step can save hundreds of plastic bags from entering the environment.
Organize a beach clean up: Organizing a beach cleanup is a fantastic way to help reduce plastic and foam from going into our oceans and lakes. It is also a perfect way to acknowledge Earth Day and gather your community to celebrate. Simply choose a date, time, and location and then gather volunteers. Spread the word about your clean up through social media and flyers in your community. Then, gather your supplies and make sure you have enough gloves, trash bags, and recycling bins for your volunteers. Consider partnering with a local business or environmental group to help supply what’s needed. When it’s finally time to meet up for your beach clean up, use the time to educate your volunteers of the harmful effects of single-use plastics and foam and discuss ways everyone can help to reduce it.
Shop brands that are climate friendly or are B Corp certified: Reducing plastic in fast fashion is crucial in the health of our planet. The fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution, with synthetic materials like polyester and nylon being used in 60% of all clothing produced. However, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of plastic used in the fashion industry, such as shopping for brands that are climate-friendly or B Corp certified.
Climate-friendly fashion brands prioritize sustainable and eco-friendly materials, and minimize their environmental impact through responsible production and supply chain management. These brands use natural and organic fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo, and incorporate recycled materials into their designs. Additionally, they often implement sustainable practices such as reducing water usage and carbon emissions.
B Corp certification is a third-party certification that recognizes companies for their social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. B Corp certified brands prioritize sustainability in their operations and supply chain, and use their businesses as a force for good.
Reduce single-use plastic and foam at events: If you participate in large events like marathons, concerts, or festivals, ask organizers to use paper products instead of plastic for their cups and utensils, encourage them to have proper on-site recycling bins and compost and ask attendees to bring their reusable water bottles and bags. Send emails and make phone calls ahead of time to event organizers and ask them to have water refill stations available as well.
Use a reusable water bottle: Bring your own refillable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles. You can find bottles made of glass, stainless steel, or other non-toxic materials.
Pack your lunch in reusable containers: Instead of using single-use plastic bags or styrofoam takeout containers to pack your lunch, use reusable containers made of glass, silicone, or stainless steel.
Shop in bulk: Buy food items like grains, nuts, and snacks in bulk, and bring your own reusable bags or containers to store them in.
Make your own cleaning products: Instead of buying cleaning products packaged in single-use plastic, make your own with simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
Host a zero-waste party: Host a party that’s free of single-use plastics and styrofoam, and encourage your friends to bring their own utensils and containers. This is a fun and effective way to demonstrate the benefits of reducing single-use plastic and foam.
Sign petitions: Signing petitions is a simple but effective way to demand change and encourage companies and governments to take action towards reducing single-use plastic. Earth Day is a perfect day to take time out of your day to research and sign petitions.
Here is a petition you can sign to make a difference: Earth Day Network petition calling for reduction in plastic by companies
Rally your friends and educate others: Spread awareness about the impact of single-use plastic and styrofoam share your tips for reducing it with your friends, family, and community. Talk about why it’s important to reduce our usage and provide tips on how to do so. The more people that make a few small changes will make a big impact. Look for local initiatives or organizations that work towards reducing single-use plastic, and get involved by volunteering or attending events.
Reducing single-use plastic and polystyrene foam is an important step towards protecting our planet and ensuring a sustainable future. By making small changes in our daily habits, we can make a big difference in the health of our planet. Let’s celebrate Earth Day by committing to reducing single-use plastic and making sustainable choices all year through. Choose one or more things on this list and commit to them on Earth Day, reduce your plastic footprint all year through and by next Earth Day you’ll be proud of the changes you’ve made.
How are you taking action to reduce single-use plastics and foam this Earth Day and everyday? Share your thoughts, tips, and swaps with our growing Facebook community. Spread the worth with #DitchPlasticPackaging.