World Oceans Day: 20 Ways to Save The Ocean by Using Less Plastic

World Oceans Day: 20 Ways to Save The Ocean by Using Less Plastic

Trizanne BarnardJune 08, 2020

Did you know that about 71% of Earth's surface is covered by water and that he oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth's water?

While we celebrate our blue planet on World Oceans Day, it's critical to highlight the need to protect our oceans. One major way in which we can protect the oceans is by reducing our plastic use.

Plastic trash is a long-term issue with big environmental consequences. More than 40% of all plastic used worldwide is used just once and then thrown out. Much of it ends up in the ocean, where it can be deadly to sea life.

If you want to reduce your plastic use, there are a lot of ways to do it. The good news is that many of these ways are cheap and easy, without much of a change in your habits.

Small-scale changes might not seem like the way to make a difference, but collectively, small changes in the way we use plastics can help stem the flow that's clogging our oceans and polluting ecosystems worldwide.

20 Ways to Use Less Plastic

1. Use Reusable Shopping Bags

The best way to keep plastic bags out of your shopping is to provide your own. A fabric shopping bag or 15 when you're on your way to the shops is always a good plan, and it's worth keeping some on your person at all times to hold unexpected purchases.

2. Choose Glass or Paper Straws instead of Plastic One

Plastic straws have been in the spotlight a lot these days, and with reason. Many of them find their way into the ocean every year, and they're not recyclable.

If you're able to cut back, why not? Bring your own straw if you need it, and get a glass or metal version as a replacement.

3. Get A Reusable Water Bottle

Reusable water bottles are an excellent way to cut down on the purchase of pricey plastic bottles or cans. Always fill up before you leave the house so you're not caught out on the go.

4. Don't Bother with Bottled Water At All

Plastic bottles of water are not the way forward for a plastic-free world.

"Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it," My Plastic Free Life explains.

5. Avoid Shrink-Wrapped Fruit & Veg

One of the main ways many of us pick up plastic is while grocery shopping — particularly when picking up fruit and vegetables.

"Try to avoid snacks that come wrapped in individual plastic and instead grab popcorn kernels and banana chips from the bulk section of the store," advises National Geographic.

6. Get A Travel Mug for Coffee & Tea on The Go

Can't wake up without your morning coffee? Forgo plastic cups, straws and other accessories by bringing your own travel cup, preferably made out of something environmentally friendly like sustainable bamboo.

Bonus: many places will charge less if you bring your own cup.

7. Go with Refills rather than New Products

Rather than going out and purchasing an entirely new plastic bottle or container of a product, look for ways to fill the old one up again.

Kevin Goodson of Money Saving Expert explains, "Buying refills of products such as air fresheners, coffee granules, handwash and herbs and spices saves money as well as cutting down on plastic waste in terms of lids, bottles and so on."

8. Get Plastic-Free Cleaning Products

Yes, it's possible to have low plastic use in your cleaning products.

"Use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges. Compressed natural cellulose sponges are often sold without any plastic packaging because they don’t need to be kept moist; they expand when wet," explains My Plastic-Free Life.

9. Swap Out Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap is wasteful (it always ends up being thrown out) and not necessary when it comes to preserving food.

"Beeswax and soy wax wraps – reusable, biodegradable alternatives to cling film – are now widely available. Made from cotton, wax and resin, these wraps can be moulded around containers and food itself to keep it fresh, then washed, dried and reused. They last for up to a year and, once they’re spent, some can be composted," notes Goodson at Money Saving Expert.

You can also use a plate to cover up items in bowls, or placing cut fruit and veggies face-down on a plate.

10. Skip The Top when You Grab A Coffee

Want to get a drink on the run? Forgo the plastic top.

"Going topless is a curious way to save plastic, but for those who often sip something on the go, not worrying with the top might knock some serious non-biodegradable guilt off the docket. This goes for the to-go coffees, as well as fountain drinks from fast food joints or convenient stores. So, go topless when possible," recommends Jonathan Engels at One Green Planet.

11. Try A Bamboo Toothbrush

Get a plastic-free bathroom by looking at your toothbrush, advise the Wildlife Trusts: "Bamboo toothbrushes made from sustainable bamboo are an easy way to ditch the excess plastic."

12. Beware when Shopping Online

If you order things that tend to arrive in meters of shrink wrap and five layers of plastic, resist the temptation — or ask the sellers to go plastic-free when they ship.

"Don’t forget about the plastic packaging that engulfs almost all items that you purchase online — consider your plastic resolution a barrier to impulse shopping," says National Geographic.

13. Reuse Plastic Containers For Green Purposes

Reusing plastic is a good way to keep it out of landfill.

"Save up yogurt pots and other small plastic pots to start growing fruit and veg in before moving them to your garden," Goodson recommends. "Tubs containing the likes of margarine and ice cream can be reused as dividers in drawers and cupboards."

14. Use Bar Soaps Instead Of Pump Soaps

Instead of pumping soaps or shower gels, go for bars instead.

"It’s such a simple change – using bar soaps instead of pump soaps – but it can make a big difference for wildlife," say the Wildlife Trusts.

"Using bars means no more bottles for your soap, reducing the amount of new plastic being made. This also cuts down your carbon footprint, since the manufacture of plastic creates a lot of CO2 emissions and liquid soaps have a 25 percent larger carbon footprint than bar soaps."

15. Go for Hygiene Products Not Wrapped in Plastic

Toilet paper, soap, body wash, bubble bath — look for products that don't come in plastic containers or wrapping.

16. Buy Loose-Leaf Rather Than Teabags

Drink tea? Buy loose-leaf (and a tea strainer) if you'd like to stay away from teabags, which can have plastic components.

"You may be surprised to hear that many teabags have plastic woven into the fibres, or are sealed with a plastic based glue," the Wildlife Trusts write. "Following public pressure, a few companies have committed to eliminating plastic from their teabags, and a quick internet search will show you which brands are plastic-free."

17. Avoid Take Out

Do away with the plastic containers and cutlery of take out food.

"Make ‘fakeaways’, i.e., replicate takeaway food by making it at home — as well as doing away with the associated plastic, it’ll undoubtedly be cheaper in the long run," says Goodson at Money Saving Expert.

18. Go to Grocery Counters for Meat, Fish, & Cheese

Old-fashioned it may be, but try to go fresh when you go shopping rather than heading for the supermarket's frozen or pre-prepped aisles.

In supermarket deli counters, the food will be the same price, but you'll be able to order exactly as much as you need and ask for no plastic packaging.

"Check out the counters before buying from the fridges," Annie Clarke of Mind Body Bowl told Women's Health.

19. Buy Secondhand as Much as Possible

Avoid plastic packaging and new plastic items by going thrifting and second-hand.

"New items almost always come in plastic packaging, but you could reuse someone else’s items instead of buying new ones from a store," said Lifehacker.


20. Hand-wash Synthetics

You may not realise that washing synthetic materials in the washing machine can release a lot of their internal plastics into the waste water. The other option? Hand-washing.

"Hand-washing synthetic fabrics significantly reduces the amount of fibres released, or if you’re reluctant to give up the convenience of the washing machine, shorter wash cycles, or purpose-made microfibre-catching laundry bags can minimise the impact [sic]. When buying new clothes, think twice about anything made with synthetic fabrics," the Wildlife Trusts advise.

Reducing the amount of synthetics in your wardrobe means less time washing them by hand. Win-win.

Reducing plastic use in everyday life isn't massively difficult with a bit of ingenuity. And by summer you might have a row of cute new plants poking out of your old yogurt pots. Let's start reducing and reusing to save the oceans this World Oceans Day!

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