Smart Living: 7 Ways to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastic When Grocery Shopping - PressFrom - US

Smart Living7 Ways to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastic When Grocery Shopping

19:47  20 june  2019
19:47  20 june  2019 Source:

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Single - use plastic has been in the news a lot lately—from plastic bag bans to the obscene amount of plastic ending up in our oceans. You've probably seen horrible stories like the whale that washed up in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach, or the dolphin stranded in Florida with plastic

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7 Ways to Cut Down on Single-Use Plastic When Grocery Shopping© Getty / Jaroslav Siroky / EyeEm / Steve Gorton

Single-use plastic has been in the news a lot lately—from plastic bag bans to the obscene amount of plastic ending up in our oceans. You've probably seen horrible stories like the whale that washed up in the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach, or the dolphin stranded in Florida with plastic bags and a balloon in its stomach. Stories like these are tragically not uncommon, and they highlight the enormous issue we're facing as a result of our high plastic consumption.

These and other headlines have a lot of people talking about the harm of single-use plastics, and it got me thinking about my own habits, too. It seems like no matter how much I try not to, I always manage to leave the grocery store with a cart full of plastic in all its various shapes and sizes. Single-use plastic is just what its name suggests: plastic that's designed for one use, so you can't simply repurpose it the way you can with some other types of plastic, Roland Geyer, industrial ecology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental, tells SELF. And unfortunately, he says, it's mostly used in the context of packaging—especially at grocery stores.

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PP plastic is used to make containers for yogurt, deli foods, medications and takeout meals. Tips for Cutting Down on Your Plastic Use . If at all possible, seek to purchase products that are not made from or packaged in Here are a few ideas for doing so: Use reusable shopping bags for groceries .

Lets break it down : Refuse – Avoid single use plastics and paper products by saying no thank you, opting for reusables. Related: Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping . Cut down on electricity use altogether: No matter what you decide to do, using less electricity is always the best

The harsh reality is that even if we're diligent about recycling, a huge amount of plastics are ending up in our oceans—and in the bellies of the animals who reside in them. That's because the recycling systems that we currently have in place are insufficient to account for the high amounts of plastic being used worldwide, he explains. In a perfect world, he says, everything we put in the blue bin would be hauled to a material recovery facility or MRF, where it would be sorted, cleaned, compacted into bales, and sent off to recycling facilities where it would be broken down to be reused. But he says it doesn't always work out like this for a number of reasons.

For one, Geyer says that the U.S. used to send about 60 percent of its plastic to recycling facilities in China and has had nowhere to send it since China instated its ban on plastic last year. Plus, there aren't systems in place to recycle all the different kinds of plastic, Geyer adds. There are seven different types of plastic, and they can all technically be recycled, but in most of the facilities in the U.S. and around the world, only the first two types of plastic get processed—PET, which is typically used in soda bottles, and HDPE, a slightly milky plastic that is used for cleaning products and milk jugs. All of the different types of plastic need to be recycled separately, because they're all made from different chemicals and won't create a useable product when combined, he explains. And for now, most recycling facilities don't have the capabilities to successfully sort and process each different kind. (Even if they could, it's also not always easy to tell what type of plastic a product is made from, because there aren't always clear labels indicating that.)

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Taking reusable shopping bags to the grocery store can cut down on the 1 million plastic bags that end up in the trash every minute. About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade.

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Basically, as disheartening as it sounds, no matter how diligent you are about recycling, there's still an uncomfortably high chance it will end up in the ocean. If we really want to clean up the plastic in the world, Geyer says we need to shift our focus from recycling to reducing and reusing instead. I've been painfully aware of how easy it is to end up with plastic even when you're trying not to, especially since I collected all the garbage I made in a week for a story I wrote a few years ago. It was an eye-opening experience for me, and I've tried to change my habits for the better ever since, but the more I see people talking about reducing plastic consumption the more I realize that I need to increase my efforts.

Below are some tips that start small and specific—the ideas here are all aimed at helping you reduce the amount of single-use plastics you encounter while grocery shopping. A lot of this revolves around choosing products packaged in easier-to-recycle materials or reusing stuff that you already have to minimize the new plastic you're accumulating. While these tactics can make a difference on a personal level, it's also important to think about the high-level changes that will help our environment, like electing officials who prioritize sustainability efforts and environmental protections. Because to have the biggest impact, we need to make changes in our daily lives and vote on the larger-scale initiatives when it counts. Meanwhile, here are some things you can do to cut back on all the plastic we tend to accumulate at the grocery store, to start:

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It's time to phase out all single - use plastic . Plastic bottles for Sriracha sauce are moulded within Huy Fong Foods Inc. massive sauce For example, more than 100 cities have adopted restrictions on polystyrene takeout containers, and the state has banned single - use plastic grocery bags.

1. Skip shopping bags and just reuse whatever bags you already own.

"We use a plastic bag for an average of 12 minutes, but they take hundreds of years to break down in the landfill and only 1 percent are returned to the store for recycling," Erin Augustine, corporate sustainability expert and founder of @carbonfreefamily on Instagram, tells SELF.

"Reusable tote bags are absolutely key," Dominique Drakeford, creator of Melanin and Sustainable Style, tells SELF. While there's some debate about what kinds of bags are actually best for the environment, one thing we can agree on is that reusing the bags you already own is going to be more sustainable than getting a bunch of new plastic bags from the check-out line or even buying new cotton tote bags just for the grocery store. Whether you have old plastic bags laying around your place or you have some tote bags, the key is using what you already have for future shopping trips.

"You don't need to buy fancy new shopping bags," Augustine says. "I encourage people to use what they have." Drakeford adds that she's never actually purchased a reusable tote and just uses bags she has collected over the years. If you're not sure when you're going to be grocery shopping, make it a habit of keeping a few totes in the trunk of your car (or one folded up in your purse) so you're always prepared.

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Reusable expandable grocery tote bag, £1, Amazon. If you are eco-conscious, and trying to cut down on single - use , man-made materials, you may not be aware that some tea bags actually Several tea bag brands use polypropylene, a sealing plastic , to keep the tea bags from falling apart.

Single - use - plastics frequently do not make it to a landfill or are recycled.[11] A full 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. This is expected to increase to two

2. Same goes for bags for produce.

If you're used to putting loose fruits and veggies in their own plastic bags to keep them from spilling in your cart as you shop, start using a reusable version. Again, that doesn't need to mean buying something new—you can reuse an old plastic bag you brought home from the grocery store, a tote bag, whatever you have.

3. Skip produce wrapped in plastic.

Whenever Augustine goes to a traditional supermarket, she checks out the produce section first to scope out the plastic-free options. "I look for 'naked' fruits and vegetables, those displayed in piles without any packaging," she explains. "Produce displayed in this way allows me to choose the right quantity for my family, minimizing food waste and packaging waste at the same time." It's a win-win.

4. Choose products in glass or paper containers.

"When buying packaged products, my first preference is glass or paper since it can be easily reused," Micaela Preston, creator of Mindful Momma, tells SELF. She says that a lot of pantry staples—like pasta sauce, peanut butter, salsa, and cooking oils—often come packaged in either glass or plastic, so it's easy to make the change. "Take a look at the options and try to switch over to the glass packages," she says, "even if it means switching brands." Of course, it's important to note that glass does not come burden-free, Geyer explains. He says that because the glass recycling rate in the U.S. is only around 30 percent, and because recycling glass comes with its own set of problems, it's better to reuse what you have whenever you can. If that's not an option, glass is still a better choice than plastic.

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Check out these easy ways you can start reducing your waste in your every day life! Did you know that of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the US in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling?

Creating single - use plastic items uses up significant resources. Have you ever thought about all the precious Single - use plastic , whether from lunch wrap or bags, takes anywhere from 20 to 1,000 Some states have placed restrictions on the provision of plastic bags, which is one way in which their

5. Bring your own jars for bulk foods.

Preston loves buying food from the bulk section at stores like Whole Foods for a few reasons. "I can bring my own container and avoid packaging waste, I can buy just the amount I need and no more (which reduces food waste), and if often costs less," she explains.

When she plans on shopping from the bulk bins, she brings glass jars like Mason jars or old reused pasta sauce jars from home. Just be sure to calculate the tare weight on the jar or bag so that you're only charged for the weight of the food. If you're not sure how to do that, ask an employee at the store to help you do it on the bulk scale.

6. Shop at a farmers market when possible.

Augustine says that it's way easier to avoid plastic packaging when you're at the farmers market versus a grocery store, simply because there just usually isn't as much there. "Most of the farmers bring their fruits and vegetables to the market without any packaging," she explains. Just remember to bring along your own bags to carry your goodies home.

7. Be willing to skip a product if the only option is wrapped in plastic.

In some cases, it can be hard to find an ingredient you're looking for that's not packaged in plastic, Preston explains. She says that though there is usually an alternative way to buy a product, sometimes the only options are wrapped in plastic. For example, if she can only find cherry tomatoes packaged in a plastic clamshell container (you know the ones), she will skip it entirely.

But Preston says it's also important to give yourself a break. "Don't beat yourself up for buying food packaged in plastic occasionally," she explains. "It's about progress, not perfection." And remember, these little hacks are just that: little. They can absolutely make a difference in your own consumption, but it's important to also look for large-scale ways to keep the conversation around environmental protection going.

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