4 Ways You Can Reduce Your Plastic Usage

8 Jun 2020

@abillion profile image

plastic bottle floating in water

Plastic is definitely not fantastic! Yes, it's oh so convenient for oh so many purposes. But, plastic has become deadly, especially for those animals who live in and around the world’s ocean, such as fishes and marine birds.

Every year another estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our planet’s oceans. That is enough added plastic pollution to cover every inch of the oceans’ coastlines.

This 4-minute video from a Pacific island captures the destruction our urge for ease has wrought on marine animals. Warning - the video starts pleasantly enough, but soon you may want to barf.

Many of us are troubled by plastic pollution in our oceans. That's why we commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8. This acts as a reminder for us to eliminate as much plastic waste as we can from our everyday lives.

turtle swimming underwater

1. Do Your Bit When You Bite

Everyone can do something to reduce plastic pollution. Here are the suggestions. These aren't new suggestions, but most of us are probably not implementing them.

a. Substitute disposables with reusables. Become the lighthouse by showing others that low-plastic lifestyles are possible.

Things we do to reduce our plastic consumption

- Refuse or use reusable straws

- For take out, bring our own cutlery and bowls

- Invest in reusable bottles/thermos for hot and cold drinks

- Always use reusable bags when out shopping

- Use reusable containers to store food at home


b. Live the low plastic life. Shine a light to low-plastic living beyond just friends and family. Let the general public know to politely tell businesses that we don’t want any plastic with our food.

c. Be the noisy lighthouse, so that the people at company HQs know that their customers care about plastic and want companies to reduce plastic use. Making this polite noise can be as quick and easy as a social media message. Patient persistence, please.

Of course, we shouldn’t just complain; we should give verbal pats on the back to companies that adopt low-plastic practices. Praise is so much more fun to give and receive than criticism. We can also use petition sites, either to sign existing petitions, such as this one to stop plastic pollution in the Arctic, or we can start our own petition.

substituting plastic for reusables

Carrots and Sticks

Sad, but true that videos of dead birds, stats about millions of metric tons of plastic waste, and even the sight of us with our funky reusables gracefully saying “no thanks” to plastic probably isn’t going to lure most people away from the siren call of convenience.

We've to hit a sacred spot: people’s wallets. We can ask companies to do this in a nice way with incentives for using reusables.

We can also play bad cop by pressuring companies to impose extra charges for plastic bags, etc. Perhaps, even better than penalties, we can ask governments to impose outright bans. Thanks to pressure from citizens and environmental organizations more than 30 countries in Africa have banned plastic bags. One of them is South Africa which facetiously labeled the ubiquitous plastic bag as the country’s national flower.

Shaun Frankson of Plastic Bank put it very well in a Ted Talk about consumer power.

“It's getting easier to act like a responsible consumer in our interconnected online world. We're taking trust and transparency to entirely new levels. We can now take out our cell phone and ask it to search the difference between the two options. We can do it right from the grocery store. And we can even use that same cell phone to take a picture of any wrongdoing or injustice anywhere in the world as it happens. It's getting harder for corporations to hide the bad and easier for us to discover the good.”

smartphone with recycle logo placed on top of a cloth bag

Entrepreneurs to the Rescue

Another way to help marine animals is by supporting entrepreneurs who are talking about marine pollution. These bold people think big about solving the massive self-inflicted problems we and our fellow Earthlings are facing. Here are two examples of startups that are hoping would rid the world of plastic poisons. Maybe their examples will inspire others to be the next pioneer leaders of humanity’s plastics purge.


Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier were two university students in London who combined their skills and passion to develop a new, eco-friendly form of plastic made from seaweed. It’s called Notpla (not plastic).

When you drink water in a Notpla container or use sauce from a Notpla sachet, you can consume the container, too. Really! Check out their video to see for yourself. A bit squeamish about consuming the container? No worries – the packaging biodegrades in a matter of weeks only. This is why Notpla’s slogan is “making plastic disappear.”

In 2017, Rodrigo and Pierre raised £850,000 in a record 3 days on the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, and they are still looking for investors. Even small investments in eco-friendly startups can make a difference.

Plastic Bank

Another startup fighting to defend marine wildlife is Plastic Bank. If you think NotPla is great, wait till you hear about Plastic Bank! Not only are they protecting marine animals by keeping plastic out of waterways, but they are also alleviating poverty by teaming up with tens of thousands of people in countries from Haiti to Egypt to Indonesia.

Plastic Bank was co-founded by David Katz. David was a serial entrepreneur who saw the Midway Island bird video highlighted at the beginning of this article. He then teamed with Shaun Frankson, a blockchain expert. Plastic Bank, in turn, teams with big companies such as IBM, Eat Natural, and Go Jek.

Plastic Bank mobilizes technology to incentivize people on the ground to collect plastic waste and then works with local businesses to create new plastic.

Maybe the ideas in this article will inspire you to join with others to help marine animals. Happy World Oceans Day! Please comment below to share your ideas on how you are or will be helping marine animals.

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@plantalicious profile image
plantalicious2 YEARS AGO
It would probably be best if the imbedded link pointed to the the original YouTube of the Midway/Albatross film? https://www.youtube.com/user/journeytomidway
@abillion profile image
abillion2 YEARS AGO
@plantalicious Hey! Thank you for the original link! We have updated the article and it now links to the original video on albatross the film's website
@s1224 profile image
s12242 YEARS AGO
great article, thank you!
@abillion profile image
abillion2 YEARS AGO
@ s1224 Thanks for the support! We're glad you liked it 😊
@chiagreen profile image
chiagreen2 YEARS AGO
Very insightful!
@vikas profile image
vikas2 YEARS AGO
@chiagreen 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽
@calvinx profile image
calvinx2 YEARS AGO
Notpla is interesting. Uses calcium alginate. It’s beginning to gain widespread adoption. Nice article summarizing the science behind it here - https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/foods/foods-07-00170/article_deploy/foods-07-00170.pdf
@vikas profile image
vikas2 YEARS AGO
@calvinx 👍🏽
@iamnotagirl profile image
iamnotagirl2 YEARS AGO