Believe it or not, most "single-use" items can be used many more times than just once. A single-use plastic grocery bag can be reused for a future grocery trip, as a bag to hold your lunch, or as a liner for your garbage can. Plastic bags were first created in the 1960s and were officially introduced to the United States by in 1979 although not many stores or businesses used them at the time. Fast forward to about 40 years later and now worldwide, 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually. That is nearly 2 million bags used every single minute. On top of that, according to Earth Policy, the amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for 1 mile. Currently, 100 billion plastic bags pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year. That is almost 1 bag per person each day. If these bags were to be laid down end-to-end, they could circle the equator 1,330 times.
Single-use water bottles are another item that can be used repeatedly. Last year in the United States alone, Americans used approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles. Unfortunately, the U.S's recycling rate for all plastic material is a mere 23% - meaning 38 billion water bottles are wasted every single year. If every 1 plastic water bottle opened in the United States was refilled 5 times before being recycled, it would reduce the 50 billion plastic water bottles used annually to 10 billion used. This might be a small step, but it is a step in the right direction.
Reducing the amount of plastic used is the most beneficial way to minimize the amount that could potentially end up polluting our oceans. The 4Ocean team understands that plastic is a part of many people's everyday lives whether we realize it or not and is hard to completely eliminate it entirely. However, taking small steps to be conscious about your everyday choices can have a positive impact for our environment. While going grocery shopping bring reusable grocery bags to avoid using plastic bags for your groceries. Many supermarkets have signs throughout their store to promote customers to use reusable bags while other stores go to the means of even selling reusable bags in their stores for customers to buy right then and there. Some studies and estimates suggest that by purchasing reusable shopping bags and using them every time you go shopping could eliminate the disposal of as many as 20,000 disposable plastic bags. Investing in higher quality reusable bags will also mean that you can use the same bags for years to come.
While refilling single-use water bottles can help minimize the amount of plastic being produced and is a good way to reuse plastic, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles all together is the best way to reduce the amount produced annually. From small businesses to large corporate stores, more people are promoting the use of reusable water bottles over single-use plastics. These bottles are made from various materials such as glass, metals, and even hard plastics - which can all be recycled if they are to ever break or if the consumer grows tired of the product!
As mentioned previously, eliminating plastic all together is a near impossible challenge when it comes to products we use on a regular. However, how we dispose of these products can make a world of a difference. On most plastic, metal, and paper goods is a small recycle symbol. So, instead of disposing of it in a trash bin, it can be recycled and melted down to make new recyclable products! According to Keep America Beautiful, a glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days. Approximately 85% of people in the United States have access to curb-side or drop-off paper recycling programs. With more and more recycling bins popping up for easier access to more people, there is almost no excuse as to why we cannot begin to recycle more!
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