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Plastic litter is turning our oceans into huge garbage dumps, with gigantic floating plastic islands and having an alarming impact on sea life. The biggest thing you can do to help? Don’t litter.  But you can also lighten up on your plastic usage. We’ve got some tips for how.

The Surfrider Foundation reports that most plastic pollution that ends up in the ocean starts out on land as litter, which then gets washed down gutters and drains into streams and rivers, and out into the ocean. And because plastics have been engineered to be durable and resilient, apart from a tiny fraction that has been incinerated, nearly every piece of plastic that has ever been produced, still exists in some shape or form.

  1. Switch to cloth shopping bags, metal or glass water bottles and coffee cups.  
  2. Take a reusable lunch box, thermos and sandwich wraps when you’re brown-bagging it.
  3. Go digital. Eliminate the need for plastic boxes and disks for movies and music.
  4. Bring your own cutlery to fast food and fast casual restaurants to avoid using plastic. Bring reusable cups and mugs to coffee shops that support using them.
  5. Reuse plastic items you receive as many times as you possibly can, including “disposable” things like straws and cup lids. (Just wash them thoroughly with soap and water.)
  6. Look for alternatives to plastic items you normally use, like glass or metal containers for leftovers instead of plastic containers.
  7. Recycle. When you must use plastics, look for the lowest numbers, which are easiest to recycle.

Image by the Surfrider Foundation