Ready to #effsingleuse this year...but not really sure where to start? We’ve got your back. Renewing your reusable lifestyle can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but we promise — it’s easy when you’ve got a plan!
To help get you started, we’ve assembled 12 sustainable habits for you to try in 2021. There’s just one for each month, so you can take your time testing it out to see if it works for your lifestyle. To guide our sustainable suggestions, we’re taking our cue from 5 Gyres’ list of the Top 10 Plastic Polluters with ideas that reduce the use of these plastics.
January: Skip the Styrene
Polystyrene and expanded polystyrene foam (aka styrofoam) is one of the biggest plastic polluters because it’s found in so many of the disposable products available for use: takeout containers, coffee cup lids, SOLO cups. In addition to clogging landfills and waterways, it’s definitely cardiogenic to animals and most likely carcinogenic to humans, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Um, yikes.
Try this: Styrene is usually labeled with the number “6.” Whenever possible, skip the coffee cup lids, plastic cups, and other disposables with this number during January. Klean Kanteen has a travel mug for when you're on the go, to help with this goal.
February: Make a Swap
This month, take it one step more. Avoiding the problem is the first step in keeping plastic out of the landfill, but making an intentional choice to replace something in your life with a non-plastic alternative is even better!
Try this: Experiment with changing out a plastic product for a zero-waste option: Bites toothpaste bits instead of a tube or bar soap and conditioner instead of a bottled option are good places to start.
March: How Does Your Garden Grow?
No plastic necessary when you’re sprouting it yourself! It can go straight from soil to silverware if you plant a small garden at home. If this is your first attempt, start small with one or two types of plants.
Try this: Plant a few veggies in your backyard or just in planters on your windowsill. Here’s a chart of which plants grow best for your region.
April: Dress to Impress
Scientists recently found plastic clothing fibers on Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. If that doesn’t say enough about plastic pollution, what will?
Try this: Shopping this month? Look for clothing made from natural fibers, such as cotton, hemp, or linen. PrAna offers a great collection of sustainably sourced, natural fiber clothing. These won’t shed microplastics. With your existing clothing, be sure to wash on cooler temperatures, wash heavy and light clothing separately to reduce abrasion, or consider a microfiber filter.
Bring your own bottle, that is. Plastic water bottles are expensive, and only 3 out of 10bottles produced actually get recycled.
Try this: During the month of March, commit to carrying your own water bottle. Do your best to say no to bottled water or bottled soft drinks. Find a reusable style with insulation to keep your drinks cool and prevent excess condensation, Swell is a great option. After a few days of having a water bottle on hand, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
June: Skip the Straw
While smaller than many plastics in the grand scheme of things, plastic straws are nevertheless a huge environmental problem. Every day, approximately 500 million straws are used in the US everyday. That’s the equivalent of over 127 school buses filled with straws each day!
Try this: The one’s easy: invest in our To-Go Ware Premium. This reusable utensil set has all your bases covered, and allows you to say no to straws at restaurants or when picking up takeout.
July: Bag the Single-Use Habit
Ah, the nearest and dearest to our hearts. Those plastic bags you pay $.10 for in the grocery store? The produce baggies in the vegetable aisle? There’s a good chance they’ll be around for the next ten centuries.
Try this: Just one ChicoBag original tote can replace 1040 single-use bags throughout its life. Place one in your car or in your bag this month. Even one use keeps huge amounts of plastics out of the waterways.
August: Put a Fork in It
Like disposable plastic bags, single-use cutlery takes centuries to decompose. Choosing a more sustainable option, like bamboo, keeps 1300 single-use forks, knives, and spoons out of the waterways every year.
Try this: Invest (be it a set from To-Go Ware, or good old fashioned thrift shops) in reusable cutlery. Be sure to skip the utensils in your Doordash or Uber Eats order.
September: Let It Flow
While these numbers are difficult to track, National Geographic estimates a single menstruator may use between five and 15,000 single-use pads and tampons, most of which end up in a landfill or the oceans. Even organic options are usually wrapped in single-use plastics.
Try this: Again, not for everybody, but if it’s comfortable and works for your lifestyle, reusable pads and cups are much more sustainable options. Silicone cups actually break back down into sand over time. The diva cup is a great option, and offers a "starter kit " for introduction.
October: Ban the Balloons
They clog up the rivers and oceans. They litter our cities and forests. And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), balloons “can be mistaken for food, and if eaten and ingested, balloons and other marine debris can lead to loss of nutrition, internal injury, starvation, and death.” Not worth it.
Try this: Banners, paper chains, flowers, leaf confetti, seadballs, trees, pinwheels, kits, and eco-friendly bubbles are all equally festive decorations.
November: See-ya, Cigarette Butts
These pesky, cancer-causing ends aren’t just ugly. They’re made ofa form of plastic called non-biodegradable cellulose acetate that not only pollute the environment but also leach toxic chemicals.
Try this: Grab a reusable cleanup kit, and spend a few hours cleaning up a beach, park, or riverfront cigarette butts. Invite a few friends to join the #effsingleuse event!
December: Reusable Wrap
This time of year, plastic is present everywhere: kids’ toys, wrapping paper, gift cards, you name it. While a plastic-free holiday is a great aspiration, start small.
Try this: Instead of wrapping paper (the shiny stuff can’t be recycled), consider gifting your presents in reusable totes, recycled brown paper, or a cute tea towel. It’s a great way to spread cheer and protect the planet at the same time.