Plastic, it's almost become a dirty word at this point. Plastic is not good for the health of the planet but is also a material that's produced on a staggering level. According to The Guardian, the amount of plastic produced in a given year weighs as much as the entirety of the human race. Let that sink in for a second…the weight of the world's population, more than 7 billion people, every single year.
Plastic simply doesn't break down the way many other materials do, and nearly every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists in some form today. The stuff just doesn't go away, and 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the world's oceans on an annual basis, according to Science Advances. To give you some perspective, that's enough to cover every single foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic. Yikes!
Eliminating plastic from your daily life is a virtual impossibility. Just look around right now. I'm currently typing on a laptop with a multitude of plastic parts. The fan blowing cool air on me is made of plastic. I can see last night's plastic takeout containers on the kitchen counter. (The Thai food we ate was delicious, but not quite as good as Robyn's Thai Peanut Chicken Skewers!)
The point is that plastic is a part of our lives, but we can still find little ways to reduce our plastic use on a daily basis, including ways that relate to food. And you know we're all about food here at GrillGirl.com! So let's take a look at five tips that can help us reduce our plastic use in the kitchen:
5. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
These are becoming more and more common all over the United States, and that's a great sign for our collective plastic use. Where I live, the grocery stores don't even carry plastic bags anymore. The U.S. goes through 100 billion (yes, billion!) plastic bags every year. Tie all those bags together and it'd be long enough to circle the globe at the equator more than 700 times! That makes my head hurt.
Reusable grocery bags are great; not only do they help reduce plastic use, but they also come in handy a lot. They're great for carrying food that you're bringing to a BBQ or just to toss some stuff into when you're on the go. Their main purpose may be to carry groceries, but the bag won't complain if you throw some other items in there!
4. Try Compostable Trash Bags
I know we go through a lot of trash bags in my house, especially since our son was born. Think about all the plastic trash bags you use on a weekly basis. It's probably quite a few. Well, there are alternatives to the traditional garbage bag, and more and more hit the market all the time. Compostable bags can be used for kitchen garbage, food scraps, yard cleanup, and more! Give them a try and see how they hold up.
3. Check Out Bee's Wrap as an Alternative to Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap has been around forever. I can remember always struggling to get Saran Wrap and the like to actually seal over a bowl as a kid. I was so frustrated. Well, now we can stop buying plastic wrap every few weeks and get Bee's Wrap instead. This sustainable, reusable alternative to plastic wrap serves just as well to cover a bowl or wrap up a snack. Not only is Bee's Wrap miles better for the environment, but it will also save your wallet in the long run since you don't have to keep buying plastic wrap anymore. Win-win!
2. Get Reusable Sandwich Bags
This is extra useful for all the parents out there! Sandwich bags are a great way to keep your kids' lunches fresh and dry, but just think of all the plastic that goes into packing those lunches day after day. I love sandwich bags because they're easy, and reusable ones are just as easy. You can stash snacks, sandwiches, leftovers, or whatever else and still enjoy the peace of mind that comes with reducing your plastic use. You can put these reusable sandwich bags right into the dishwasher if you like!
1. Stop Using Straws or Try Non-plastic Ones
Straws may seem harmless enough, even whimsical. However, according to the National Park Service, 500 million plastic straws are used in the United States every day! Every day! I haven't used a straw in over five years and haven't missed it one bit. I mean, you don't really need a straw to enjoy a cool beverage, right?
However, some people just enjoy a good straw. That's fair. My mom, for example, is a big fan of drinking with a straw. So she went out and got some reusable straws, and she loves them. A lot of reusable straws are made of stainless steel, and a quick wash requires minimal effort to make a positive impact on this planet we all call home. I've even been to some restaurants that use paper straws that work just as well as plastic ones.
Look, it may not sound like much, and it's easy to think that one individual can't make an impact on such a massive issue, but every little bit helps. Using less plastic means less of it going into our oceans and eventually into our food. Try out a couple of these tips and see how they work. You just might find that you like them, and there are plenty more to be found on the web.
**Affiliate links have been used in this post, which means I could make a small commission if any products are purchased. I only recommend products that I personally use and endorse.
Morgan Dunn, Contributing Writer
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