12 Ways To Reduce The Amount of Plastic Bottles You’re Using At Home And Work
A recent study by the International Bottled Water Association revealed that bottled water has become America’s number one drink of choice. It’s a welcome shift in diet and health, but the negative impact on our environment has created an environmental crisis. Today, plastic bottles are among the biggest contributors of pollution in our oceans.
According to the Plastic Oceans Foundation, 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year . A staggering 51% of that plastic is for single-use purposes. Every time we buy a plastic bottle and discard it, we’re contributing to the environmental crisis that is threatening our oceans and all life on earth.
The need for sustainable solutions has never been more urgent. As our natural resources fall under threat of disappearing, essentials such as air and water are being contaminated by toxic chemicals used in making plastics. Without a concerted effort at recycling, there will be no future for the next generation.
Standing At The Crossroads Of Climate Change
We are at an important crossroads as a country. The decisions we make today will impact generations to come. And, while the damage to our environment is considerable, there is still time to change our habits and practices as individuals and organizations.
If you’re looking for ways to reduce waste and cut down on the use of plastic bottles there are a few things you can do right now to make a difference.
So what’s the best way to reduce the amount of plastic bottles, packaging and containers used in your home or office?
You might also be interested in these Low Cost Ways For Home Owners To Treat Contaminated Tap Water.
12 Easy Ways You Can Cut Down On Plastic Bottles And Containers
- Instead of plastic bottles, purchase consumable goods at a bulk bin (cereal, rice, pasta). You’ll also save money by eliminating costly packaging.
- Avoid buying processed, frozen foods which often use plastic packaging. These are only used once and then discarded.
- Consider purifying your tap water instead of buying plastic water bottles. A simple, point of use water filtration system can turn questionable tap water into clean, purified H20. Countertop or undersink units can be found at competitive prices online.
Check out these Reviews of The Best Countertop Water Filters.
- Travel with a stainless steel water bottle instead of buying commercially bottled water. You’ll not only reduce plastic waste but save money as well.
Find Reviews of the Best Reusable Water Bottles of 2024 right here!
- Invest in a bottleless water dispenser. You’ll eliminate the need for plastic water bottles and save money on purchasing replacements for your dispenser. A bottleless water dispenser connects directly to a point of use (eg kitchen or break room sink) so you can access hot or cold water as you need directly from the tap.
- Avoid the use of plastic straws and lids, which are used once and then discarded. You can buy a reusable straw made of glass, bamboo, or stainless steel.
- A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Use a reusable bag instead as often as possible.
- Try homemade cleaning solutions rather than commercial cleaning products which use plastic bottles. Baking soda, water, and lemon are sufficient to clean most surfaces in your home without leaching potentially harmful chemicals.
- Opt for boxes instead of plastic bottles whenever possible.
- Cloth diapers rather than plastic ones are more eco-friendly. According to the EPA, Americans dispose of 7.6 billion pounds of disposable diapers annually.
- Invest in a razor with replaceable blades for shaving rather than a disposable plastic razor.
- Start composting as much waste as you can. You’ll use less garbage bags for disposal and enrich your garden. If you live in an urban area, you may need to refer to your local community composting program for help getting started.
Why Recycling Plastic Bottles Matters
Making products from recyclables results in energy savings. Recycled plastic yields one of the highest rates of energy savings from the cost of production .
- Recycled Steel saves 60%
- Recycled Newspaper saves 40%
- Recycled Plastics saves 70%
- Recycled Glass saves 40%
Revenue From Recycled Plastic
Recycled materials such as plastic bottles can also yield revenue for your business that can be reinvested to grow your company or offset other costs.
Many cities such as California have recycling centers that pay for recycled plastic by the pound. The recycling program and rate of pay is determined by local factors, particularly state legislation. You can easily find information for the recycling center or program in your city online.
Don’t miss: Why California Is In Serious Trouble.
Generally, there are two types of recycled plastic. In the state of California, for example, the rate is as follows :
- #1 Plastic: Clear, see-through kind, used in beverage containers, worth about $1.20 per pound
- #2 Plastic: Opaque or cloudy in appearance, valued at 50 cents per pound
Taxes paid on these items are typically used to support recycling programs. The rate of pay will be largely determined by your state or city’s tax rate for these plastic items. If your company or household disposes of a lot of plastic bottles, for example, you could stand to earn $100 – $200 per month in additional revenue. Use that money to provide better snacks in your breakroom, more energy efficient appliances for your home, or save it away for a vacation!
Plastic Products To Avoid Or Eliminate
Environmental experts agree that a fundamental shift in our consumer habits is the best way to address the growing waste problem. Plastic is used in so many aspects of industry and manufacturing that most of us find it difficult to imagine life without plastic.
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Plastic containers are highly durable and capable of storing food in a state of freshness for long periods of time. Because it is so flexible and malleable, plastic is used widely for packaging, storing and shipping many commercial products. Unfortunately, much of that content is used only once and then discarded.
Eliminating every source of plastic use in your home and office may not be possible or even practical. There are, however, some products you can either reduce or eliminate entirely from your household, with a little practice and effort.
Common Commercial Plastic Products include:
- Baby Wipes and Disposable Diapers: From their inner layer to their waterproof outer cover, disposable diapers are made from plastic. Super absorbent polymer makes up the absorbent inner core, while the outer layer is usually a petroleum-based plastic or a plastic-treated fabric.
- Chewing Gum: The common plastic ingredient found in listed gum labels is polyvinyl acetate. This is a non-recyclable type of plastic.
- Cigarette Filters: These small but deadly products contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic.
- Coffee Cups: Even paper or styrofoam coffee cups have plastic in the lining or the lid. Get a thermos that can be washed and reused instead.
- Dental Floss and Disposable Razor: These products are typically made from plastic-based materials. They can’t be recycled or used as compost.
- Feminine Hygiene Products: The average disposable sanitary napkin contains about two grams of plastic.
- Food Packaging: One of the biggest sources of plastic waste. Cereals, crackers, snacks, and many teas and coffees are packaged in plastic or include a sealed plastic food tray inside a paper box. Most varieties of cheese, meat, and yogurt are also packaged in plastic, as are many condiments.
- Glues: This includes school glue and wood glue which contain polyvinyl acetate, a type of plastic. Use glue sparingly. Children should be monitored closely to prevent unnecessary waste when using glue.
- Milk Cartons: Regular or soy, almond or rice milk, these are typically packaged in waxed cardboard that contains approximately 20% plastic and 80% paper.
- Metal Cans: These can often be lined with plastic.
- Personal Care Products: Plastic bottles and tubes are used for many shampoos, gels, creams, moisturizers. Although essential to proper hygiene, many personal care products are packaged in containers made of synthetic polymers and microbeads.
- Synthetic Fabrics: Polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylic yarns and fabrics are all made from plastic. When washed, these materials shed millions of microscopic plastic fibers that eventually drain into our waterways.
- Wrapping Paper: Tape, glitter and stickers contain plastic, but so does wrapping paper, which is a mix of plant fibers and laminated plastic.
Which Plastics Can Be Recycled?
To recycle plastics efficiently, the federal government and state legislation have created a classification system. Seven types of plastic are identified, each designated by a number. The number appears on the product itself, such as on the bottom of a water bottle, or the bottom of your laundry detergent container.
Plastic Recycling Classification By Number Chart
|High Density Polyethylene
|Low Density Polyethylene
|Fruit juice container, soft drink containers, bottled water
|Cleaning agents, laundry detergents, bleaching agents, shampoo bottles
|Fruit plastic packaging and trays, bubble foil and food foils
|Wrappings, crushed bottles, shopping bags
|Toys, furniture, luggage, car bumpers, exterior lining
|CD Cases, cosmetic bags, costume jewellery, vending cups, hard packaging
|Acrylic, polycarbonate, polylactic fibers, fiberglass and nylon
By learning the different classifications, you can dispose of your plastic appropriately. You’ll also be able to identify which plastics can be recycled and which ones can’t .
Plastics Recycling By Number
#1. Soda And Water Bottles (PETE)
According to the National Institutes of Health, these types of plastic containers may leach harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods.
#2. Opaque Plastics (HDPE)
Yogurt tubs, shampoo bottles, juice bottles and other opaque plastic containers. This type of plastic is considered one of the safest types, less prone to deterioration or leaching.
#3. Rarely Recyclables
These products are typically flexible in nature and include plastic food wrapping, pet toys, and some plumbing materials.
#4. Soft Recyclables
Products marked as plastic #4 include squeezable bottles, bread bags and shopping tote bags.
#5. Recyclables Containing Plastic
Items marked with number 5 can include bottle tops, cereal bags and medicine bottles. These items are not typically recycled in every city recycling program, but the practice is becoming more common.
#6. Non-Recyclable Plastic
Many containers such as styrofoam drinking cups, take-out food containers and egg cartons don’t apply to any of the groupings above.
#7. Compost Plastics
This number applies to all biodegradable and compostable plastics that are not recyclable. They can, however, be collected in curbside composting.
It’s now or never. The need to eliminate plastic bottle use has become an imperative that we all need to take seriously. The more you know about the commercial use of plastics, the easier it will be to reduce your usage and waste.
You don’t have to be a tree-hugging eco-warrior to make a positive impact on your community.
Share this article with friends and family. Spread the word, educate yourself and others, and we can turn back the clock and climate change together!