10 ways you can help reduce plastic pollution (and protect yourself from it)

With nearly 400 million tons of plastic produced each year worldwide and 10 million tons of it ending up in our oceans, plastic pollution is indisputably one of the biggest global issues our society is facing today. The good news? There are many small ways you can have a big impact.

Here are some ideas for helping reduce plastic pollution (and protect yourself from it *) by cutting back on disposable plastic.

*To know more about how plastic is affecting human health, please refer to one of our previous articles: How plastic is silently damaging your health

#1. Carry your own reusable shopping bags to the store with you

Keep them in your bag/backpack so they’ll always be handy whenever you need to buy groceries.  

#2. Reuse your “disposable” bags

Whenever you end up with plastic bags, reuse them as much as possible.

#3. Give up straws or opt for reusable straw options

When ordering your beverage at the cafe, say no to straws. If you do enjoy drinking through them (or if you need to drink through a straw for medical reasons), just buy some bamboo or stainless steel ones to bring with you. They last years and usually come with a practical straw-cleaner.

#4. Opt for reusable coffee cups

It is easy to forget your own cup, or not being able to carry it everywhere with you. If you haven’t done it already, sign up to AYA now! Our reusable cup network, totally free of charge. For info and registration, please visit ayacup.com 🙂

Are you a vendor and you wish to become a AYA participant? Please follow this link: ayacup.com/vendors. We look forward to having you on board!

#5. Cook more at home or bring your reusable containers

Not only it is healthier, but making your own meals doesn’t involve takeout containers or doggy bags. For those times when you eat out, bring your own food-storage containers to restaurants for leftovers.

#6. Use refill stations to buy food and detergents

It is not always easy to avoid plastic containers buying some types of food or products like laundry detergents. The good news is that you can find an increasing amount of places where you can refill your old bottles and containers!

You have no idea about where to find one? Please check out this guide to the main refill stores in Saigon: 3 Refill stations in Saigon.

#7. Purchase items secondhand

Items like new toys and electronic gadgets come with all kinds of plastic packaging. When you’re in need of something, check out thrift stores, flea markets or online posts for secondhand items that are just as good as new ones before buying from regular stores. You will also save yourself a good bunch of money.

#8. Make your own juices
Make fresh squeezed juices or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s better both for the environment and your health!

#9. Recycle

It seems obvious, but we’re not doing a great job of it. This shall not be considered as a way to solve the problem. We must avoid plastic usage as much as possible, but when for any reason you end up with it, recycle. Don’t throw everything in the same bin out of laziness.

The last hint comes from nrdc.org:

#10. Put pressure on manufacturers

Though we can make a difference through our own habits, corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your money to a more sustainable competitor.

Thank you for reading this far, we do hope that from now on you will start adapting some life-habits of yours, in favor of our planet, our oceans and your own health.

We have a final 11th suggestion to give you, possibly the most important of all:

Spread the word.

Whenever someone sees you using your reusable bag/straw/cup or making sustainable shopping, explain them why you do what you are doing. Someone may not care, but most people will understand your point and eventually follow your example.

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