A straw with soda, a plastic bag to carry our groceries, a wrapper on a candy bar. Taken individually, these items seem convenient and utterly harmless.
But we know now that single-use plastics come with a steep environmental cost — one that our world will continue to pay for millennia. We can also see firsthand the impact on our oceans, wildlife and our physical health.
Single-use plastics are goods that are made primarily from fossil fuel–based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use. They are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bottles, wrappers, straws and bags.
Worldwide we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year, half of which is for single-use items. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population! And did you know that the average person consumes 70,000 microplastics each year, and 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually?
Modifying your life to use less plastic is a small change that makes a world of difference for our environment. And Goodwill Central Coast can help. Roam our aisles, and in minutes you can come away with your own zero-plastic kit, with items such as metal straws, reusable water bottles, cloth tote bags, sustainable eating utensils and much more.
Here are a few tips to get you on your way to a plastic-free lifestyle:
Carry reusable shopping bags: Some people like reusable canvas totes. Others prefer to put their purchases into a backpack or messenger bag. Remember, reusable bags are not just for groceries! Carry them for all your purchases, from electronics to clothing. Goodwill has a wide variety of reusable options.
Give up bottled water: Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle and ship it. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or stainless steel travel mug, and fill it up with tap water before leaving the house.
Carry your own containers for takeout food and restaurant leftovers: Request that they use your container instead of a disposable one. If they won’t do it, apply some pressure with a tactful online review outlining your reasoning.
Eliminate plastic straws: In the U.S. alone, we use more than 180 billion plastic straws each year. Many simply break into ever-smaller particles, releasing chemicals into the soil, air and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people and the environment. A simple solution is to purchase glass, cardboard or stainless steel straws, or use no straw at all.
Give up plastic utensils: There are a growing number of people who have made the switch to sustainable eating utensils. When planning a picnic or another outing, pull out your one bamboo utensil set. These are sustainable and reusable.
Buy bulk foods: Look for stores in your area that sell foods from bulk bins and allow you to use your own bags or containers. Goodwill has a wide variety of containers for this purpose.
As Earth Day approaches, use Goodwill to help make more sustainable choices. Just by donating or shopping at Goodwill, you are doing a little bit to help save our Earth. We are proud to be considered an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer, and social innovator of the “reduce, reuse, repurpose” practice. Just stopping into your local Goodwill on Earth Day will help you go green and save green at the same time.