Recycling is one approach for reducing landfill waste, but replacing single-use items with reusable alternatives is another way to tackle a growing environmental problem.
Plastic accounts for a significant share of landfill waste each year. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 91% of plastic does not get recycled. Plastics are among the top solid waste materials (behind paper, paperboard and food), and single-use items like bags, sacks and bottles, represent the largest segment of plastic waste.
These environmentally friendly solutions for swapping single-use plastics are steps that can help reduce landfill waste:
Plastic Bags and Containers
In virtually every retail setting, plastic bags are the norm for transporting purchased food and other goods. However, these bags, which are used just minutes or, at best, hours, take as long as 500 years to degrade in a landfill.
When shopping, fabric, canvas and woven totes are effective ways to bundle your purchases. Some even offer internal cubbies and sleeves to help keep items organized during your commute. When it comes to sandwich and other storage bags, washable silicone options give you the same convenience for packing in lunchboxes and saving leftovers.
Plastic Water Bottles
A study by the Beverage Marketing Corporation found that, excluding 2008 and 2009, bottled water volume has increased every year from 1977-2019. Each person who chooses an alternative such as Brita water pitchers, faucet filters and reusable bottles over single-use plastic water bottles can remove up to 1,800 plastic water bottles from circulation each year.
“Unlike companies whose sole focus is to sell consumers bottled water, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment, costly and unnecessary, Brita has been focused on bettering our planet,” said Eric Schwartz, Brita general manager. “Recycling is simply not enough.”
Ultimately, the multi-use filter manufacturer is on track to eliminate 15 billion single-use plastic water bottles this year, working toward a 2030 goal of replacing 20 billion bottles a year.
Making the switch from single-use plastic water bottles provides other environmental benefits, as well, including preventing ozone depletion and eutrophication, which occurs when excessive rich nutrients in water negatively impact plants and animals.
With some of the nation’s biggest cities issuing bans and major food chains halting their use, it’s a good indication that plastic straws are an environmental concern. While many experts acknowledge straws account for a large overall percentage of the garbage that makes it into landfills or the ocean, environmental advocates point out few straws ever make it to a recycling bin, and those that do are often so small they are filtered out of recycling machinery.
With multiple alternatives such as recyclable paper, reusable silicone or stainless steel readily available, it’s a simple step toward making a difference.
For more ideas to live a more sustainable lifestyle and make choices that benefit the planet, visit brita.com/why-brita/better-world.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman drinking water)
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