Plastic pollution is today a global environmental problem. How can you help reduce plastic waste, in whatever small or big way? These sites and apps offer simple, actionable plans for the average person.
Climate change movements across the world are highlighting the role of plastic in most ecological issues today. You always have the option of joining a movement or campaign or taking part in a large social activity for a cause. But you can do much more by making small changes in your everyday life, and taking small actions regularly. Learn how you can reduce your plastic waste in these simple ways.
Much like you can calculate your carbon footprint, you can also determine a plastic footprint. Made by the wizards at Omni Calculator, the Plastic Footprint Calculator determines your annual plastic consumption by asking a series of questions. You might be shocked by how much plastic waste you’re generating by yourself or in your household.
The questions seem innocuous, like how many yogurt containers you use, the number of toothbrushes and toothpastes you go through, toys and furniture, etc. Each item needs only an estimate from you over a customizable time limit (day, week, month, quarter, year).
To answer the questions, you might want to take a trip around your house and really examine the findings. Your estimate and reality might not always match. Fill it all up and the app will calculate your annual plastic footprint. While you’re at it, read the simple tips in the write-up at Plastic Footprint Calculator to know how you can make a change.
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My Little Plastic Footprint (MLPF) is a free mobile app to assess how your daily habits affect your plastic consumption, and how you can change it. The app encourages you to change bad plastic habits in small steps by pointing out every possible plastic waste in your house.
The app first asks you to calculate your plastic footprint and compares it with others in your country (although the Omni Calculator app seemed better to us). The app divides a house by rooms, points out various common items, and shows how you can use a non-plastic alternative. These alternatives are often Dutch items (because the app is made in the Netherlands) but you could search for similar items in your area.
MLPF also has a quiz section for plastic awareness. It takes you through a series of questions about different rooms in your house for behavioral changes, while larger quizzes try to test how much you know about the global plastic problem.
My Little Plastic Footprint is an initiative by the Plastic Soup Foundation, which has several other useful resources worth checking out. Their YouTube channel is an excellent point of educational videos about plastic, and the website offers insightful and actionable plans.
3. Plastic Free July (Web): 30 Day Challenge to Reduce One Plastic at a Time
Plastic usage is a habit and we’ve seen how micro-challenges change bad habits. Plastic Free July is a 30-day challenge to reduce one type of plastic usage at a time. Don’t go by the monthly name, you can start at any time, and even change the length from a week to a year.
Plastic Free July concentrates on four of the most troublesome single-use plastic items: bags, water bottles, takeaway cups, and straws. The challenge is to start with these four, or all single-use items, or go completely plastic-free for a month or more. If that sounds daunting, take smaller steps by choosing to do it at only one location (school, work, home).
The website offers several suggestions on how to reduce these single-use plastic items, and how to encourage others to do the same. Successful challengers share their journeys on making small changes that helped them kick the habit. You should also try out the Pesky Plastics Quiz to check your awareness about how plastics sneak into everyday items.
4. My Plastic Free Life (Web): A Regular Person’s Guide to Quitting Plastic
Like many others, Beth Terry one day decided to reduce her plastic footprint. But unlike many others, she chronicled her journey and the lessons she learned into a blog. Slowly, she’s become a strong activist against plastic. My Plastic Free Life will teach the average person how to quit plastic for good.
The best place for beginners is the blog’s 100 Steps to Get Started page, one of the best guides to repurpose, reuse, or recycle. In it, you’ll find a series of changes, alternatives, and substitutes that can take a big bite out of your plastic consumption. All of these are steps Beth has used herself, or recommended by real readers and fans based on their experiences.
Beth has written about her initial journey extensively in a book. The blog isn’t regularly updated anymore, but its archives are full of insights and tips to go plastic-free. Check the Resources section for product recommendations and alternatives. The Challenges section isn’t updated anymore, so you can skip it.
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Be it counting calories to lose weight or a daily budget to save money, apps for tracking behavioral changes boost your chances of sticking to goals. My Plastic Diary gives you a simple interface to track your plastic consumption to reduce daily.
An average person consumes 30 kilograms of plastics in a year, so start by setting an annual plastic consumption goal. My Plastic Diary will convert this into a daily plastic limit, and the objective is to try and stay under that.
When you use anything with plastic (plastic bags, food packaging, household items, takeaway containers), mark it in the app. The app has an average weight for each of these, and a plastic score based on how harmful they are to the environment. As you track items, you’ll realize how much plastic you consume and in which categories; eventually, you can use this data to reduce your plastic footprint.
Start Small and Build Big
When you decide to make a change, it’s tempting to do something big. “Reduce plastic? Let’s start a beach clean-up,” you say to yourself. But the mantra to sustainability is to take small steps, execute them consistently, and then build to bigger steps. That’s why the apps and sites in this article focus on personal behavioral changes rather than larger projects.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t participate in the bigger projects though. If you want to volunteer with anti-plastic initiatives, you’ll find plenty of local environmental groups. Why, you could even start one yourself. Use plastic as the small starting step on your eco-conscious journey, and build that into bigger steps to change the planet. You can do it.
These sites and apps will teach you to reduce waste, be more environmentally friendly, and even adopt a zero waste lifestyle.
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