What are you willing to give up for the planet?

As the Great Strawless Movement is among us, we wonder: Can’t we do more? Can’t we do better? Straws only account for .03 percent of all the plastic in the ocean, and, not to play the blame game, but China discards a bulky 8.8 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean every year—almost 30 times as much as the U.S. Still, here are a few of the bigger and better ways Houstonians can do their part to lessen the load.

Don’t bottle it up

Non-biodegradable plastics, including plastic bottles, end up floating on the surface of the ocean, where birds and sea animals often mistake it for food. Americans use 50 billion plastic bottles each year and only about 23 percent are recycled.

When it comes to plastic bottles in the bathroom, it may seem like there’s no other alternatives. But Lush Cosmetics suggests ditching bottles completely by offering shampoo and conditioner in the form of concentrated bars. Not only are they completely plastic-free, but they can outlast two to three bottles of liquid products.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)

It feels like we’ve been fighting plastic bags for decades. Even with the addition of trending video after trending video of sea animal falling victim to merciless plastic chokehold, 100 billion plastic bags are passed through the hands of Americans each year–that’s 200 times the amount of straws we use. 

If you really want to reduce plastic waste, bring your own reusable shopping bag to the store. Most grocers offer reusable shopping bags for purchase, and you can even get insulated bags that keep your frozen food items cold. That’s cool.

Invest in a reusable bottle

This is where I have to pour one out to the Houston Zoo for their contribution to the cause. By completely eliminating single-use water bottles on site, nearly 300,000 plastic bottles were kept from becoming plastic waste in just one year. The amount of single-use plastic bottles that the U.S. uses each year (50 billion) also greatly surpasses the amount of plastic straws. Some good brands to consider when looking for reusable water bottles are Brita, S’Well, Hydro Flask, and Nalgene. Less plastic, and hey, less money in the long run.

Additionally, when going out for coffee or tea, bring your own mug to have the barista fill. Plastic lids, splash sticks, and stirrers are often a byproduct to our morning caffeine fix. Not only are you reducing plastic waste, but you can fit a lot more coffee in there. And it stays hot longer. Win, win, win.

Stop using plastic cutlery

Plastic utensils are a necessity when it comes to things like take-out orders, froyo trips, and packed lunches. Replacing plastic spoons with metal or wooden spoons is arguably just as—if not more–important than discarding plastic straws.

Switch to organic K-cups

From coffee to hot chocolate to tea, most k-cups are made of plastic. While it’s already concerning health-wise to be consuming liquid that came from a heated plastic pod, its discardable nature creates a ton of waste. I’m not one to advocate against making your own morning coffee. Instead, substitute plastic K-cups with organic, plastic-free pods. You can get eco-friendly coffee pods like Cameron’s Coffee pretty much anywhere you can get normal ones. Made of a compostable paper lid, ring, and filter, the pod offers a superior coffee taste for less than the average price.

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