Okay, you’ve already heard this before: plastics are a HUGE problem. So what? What can you or I or anybody else do about it?

By now you’ve probably heard about the push to reduce single-use plastic straws around the world. Major corporations like Starbucks and even McDonalds are working to eliminate single-use straws from their stores. And some people, like us here at the EWC office, are choosing to carry around our own reusable straws. But as great as our crusade against straws is, there’s something bigger happening here we should address.

People have started paying attention to their garbage.

Image: Plastic waste mixed with sea garbage

Source: Pixabay

Now, this might sound like a strange statement, but it is important. We aren’t just separating our recyclables (which is a great first step) we’re starting to think more about how much trash we produce and what kinds of trash we’re producing.

And that’s important.

5 minutes

A Tale of Three Plastic Bottles

Does recycling really make much difference? It turns out, our choices when it comes to plastic bottles make a major difference. TED-Ed explains how!

Read More

Starting Small

Let’s start simple, what would happen if we did jump on the plastic straw elimination train? Is it that hard? Could we bring others along with us? Buzzfeed producer Auri Jackson set out to get 100 people in her office to stop using plastic straws for a week. Here’s what happened:

(A quick note, this video does start with a brief but rather graphic video of the impact our single-use plastics have on marine life.)

So, there’s one thing you can do to reduce your plastic waste. It’s small, it’s not hard, and for most people, it’s a good first step. But straws are a tiny fraction of the single-use plastics we consume. Plastic bags, plastic packaging, plastic water bottles, all these plastics that wrap and carry other objects have an enormous impact on the environment!

Going Beyond Straws

A 2017 study—the first global analysis of all plastics ever made and what happens to them—found 91% of all the plastic waste produced doesn’t get recycled. 2 That’s crazy! What do we do about that?

Beyond recycling, reducing or refusing to use single-use plastics is an easy switch we can make! Activist, and “dude making a difference” Rob Greenfield, has a few easy steps we can all take to really start reducing our single-use plastics.

Oh, and we should mention, he took on the challenge of wearing all the trash he produced over the course of a month, so he knows a thing or two about the impact all the trash we produce has.

So now you have 6 super simple ways to start reducing your single-use plastics:

  • Use a reusable bag instead of paper or plastic.
  • Bring along a reusable cloth instead of paper towels or napkins.
  • Carry along your own travel cup or mug instead of using cups.
  • Grab some reusable utensils and containers to eat on the go.
  • Ditch plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle.
  • Eliminate plastic straws by using reusable glass or metal ones.

All you have to do is just START WITH JUST ONE. You don’t have to take on every single thing on this list. Find the easiest one, start doing it, and then once it becomes a habit, add the next! I’m up to using my own water bottle, bringing my reusable straw, and (most of the time, but I do slip up) using my reusable bags.

The moral here is, you don’t have to give up everything to have a positive impact!

12 minutes

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

All over the world, plastic bags are becoming a major source of pollution. So, how do you solve a problem this big? You put two driven and passionate teenage sisters on the case. Here is their story...

Read More

The Big Challenge: Going Zero Waste

Perhaps, though, you are compelled to really get into the zero waste lifestyle. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while, or you’ve already mastered our suggestions and are ready for the next step! Probably though, you’re like me and want to reduce your waste a little more and need some more handy tips.

Last up, we are sharing another video with you from Auri. This time, she took on the challenge of trying to live 30 days completely waste free. Unsurprisingly, there were some trials, a lot of lessons learned, and ultimately successes along the way.

(Note: there is a bleeped swear word in here for sensitive ears)

It’s Not about Perfection

I’m no saint when it comes to living a waste-free lifestyle. I mess up all the time, and I am sometimes super lazy and don’t recycle or compost the things I should. But making a change like this isn’t about perfection, it’s about doing one thing a day that is a conscious decision towards doing better! Because that one thing easily becomes two things, and on to three, and so on.

10 minutes

A Village Made of Plastic

What might happen if we placed more focus on the idea of inventing ever more creative and practical uses for what's already been made? Why keep making more "stuff"? There's something popping up in Panama that can inspire us all!

Read More

When I reach for a single-use water bottle I ask myself, is this impulse purchase so important that I want this bottle to still be here when my great-grandchildren are around? Is my 30-second walk back to my car to get my reusable water bottle more important than the corner of the planet this water bottle will end up in for the rest of time?

I may not, and you may not, be completely waste-free but the more we think about our garbage the less of it we will start to produce. We could start with straws but just starting somewhere can, and does, leave a meaningful impact!

Get Started: Find a Buddy

If you’d like to get started on reducing your single-use plastics, I recommend finding a buddy. Maybe it’s your partner, your kids or your officemate, but having somebody to remind you when you forget your water bottle, or celebrate with when you remember your straw makes it more fun! So, go ahead and share this article with somebody, grab your buddy, and get out there!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Looking for more on what you can do to help the environment?

Head over to our Conservation & Sustainability category to see how others are helping have a positive impact on our globe and to check out more ways you can help!

Conservation & Sustainability on EWC

Notes:

  1. “I Got 100 People To Stop Sucking For A Week.” YouTube, BuzzFeedVideo, 23 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiHDwU-g8T4. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.
  2. Parker, Laura. “A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 16 May 2018, news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.
  3. “5 Tips to Go Near Zero Waste.” YouTube, Rob Greenfield, 14 Oct. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkETEa7ze2M. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.
  4. “I Tried To Make Zero Trash For 30 Days.” YouTube, BuzzFeedVideo, 13 Dec. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtTTnEEPeAQ. Accessed 19 Sept. 2018.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

In this Circle

The Unexpected Ways Surfing is Helping Youth Heal

35 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Life is tough, but it's a whole lot easier when we're around people who share similar experiences in a no pressure environment. Waves for Change is one of the organizations out there harnessing the power of sport and play to create environments where children are able to open up and heal!
Read More

Guerrilla Gardener Takes on South Central LA

15 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Meet Ron Finley; an amazing fellow who's come up with a better idea than battling over turf. How about using "turf" in a very old way! Take a look!
Read More

Why Would One Man Fill 600 Potholes?

5 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Now here's an inspiring story of turning a personal loss into wonderful progress for all! Thousands of people die every year just because of the potholes littering India's roads. And after his own son lost his life, this father became the change the country needs. Just check out the impact he's having...
Read More

Building Futures One Plié at a Time

25 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

In a place where violence reigns, girls are finding refuge in a surprising way—and it's all thanks to one amazing woman.
Read More

A Sanctuary for Costa Rica’s Strays

10 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Territorio de Zaguates is providing care to nearly a thousand dogs that have been taken off the streets of Costa Rica. Their story is a testament to the impact the love and determination of one person can have on others.
Read More

Living Beyond Expectations: Daniel Kish

15 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Despite not having eyes, Daniel Kish has taught himself to "see" with a human "eco-location" and he is teaching others. His story is a remarkable testament to what happens when we never get the memo about things that are "impossible" and instead make what we have work for us!
Read More

How Cecilia Chiang Changed Food in America

9 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

If you’ve ever enjoyed Chinese food in the United States, like potstickers and Peking duck, then we’d like to introduce you to Cecilia Chiang. She's the "Julia Child" of Chinese cuisine, and the story of how she changed the way Americans eat is as remarkable as her influence!
Read More

Old Cellphones: The Key to Stopping Climate Change

13 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Deforestation causes more emissions than all of the cars and trucks on our planet combined, so what can we do to stop it? Could the unlikely hero in this story be the old cell phone tucked away in your junk drawer? It is! Read on and you'll see problem-solving at its best!
Read More

Our Plastic Waste Problem: It’s Not About Perfection

18 minutes

[ #ConspiracyofGoodness ]

By Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

We all know that plastic waste is a huge problem, but what are we supposed to do about it? Turns out there's a lot we can do with just a few little changes!
Read More