To save our waterways and reduce plastic water pollution, it's time that we learn how to reduce plastic use. In fact, at current use and disposal rates, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. This statistic alone should be a huge wake-up call. We need to take action now to preserve our waterways and fish species.
How does plastic harm fish? To start, ingested microplastic particles can physically damage fish organs and leach chemicals. In addition, when microplastics end up in our waters as well as the air we breathe, they can directly affect human health.
Here are ten specific ways to reduce plastic use and help with the conservation of natural resources today:
- Bring your own reusable cloth bags to the store for your purchases. Let the cashier know you don't need a plastic bag. One of the best ways to reduce plastic use is to keep reusable shopping bags in your car, so that you have them handy and remember to bring them into the store with you.
- Give up water that is bottled in plastic. Carry a reusable stainless steel beverage container with you instead.
- Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning whenever possible instead of household cleaners packaged in plastic. When you use baking soda and vinegar, you are also reducing the chances of toxic chemicals being flushed down the drain or ending up in our ecosystems (which can result in contaminated fish and watersheds).
- Compost grass clippings, tree leaves, vegetables, and food scraps to reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
- When ordering food for takeout or delivery, let the restaurant know you don't need plastic utensils. Use real silverware or buy a set of reusable bamboo forks and knives that you can carry with you, instead of plastic utensils.
- Skip the plastic straws with your beverages, use paper or reusable stainless steel straws.
- Use rechargeable batteries instead of buying batteries packaged in plastic.
- Bring your own ceramic mug or stainless steel tumbler when you order coffee from your local coffee shop. Reduce the amount of plastic coffee lids that end up in our waterways and landfills.
- Buy freshly baked bread. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags. At farmer's markets or natural food stores, you can buy bread that comes wrapped in paper versus plastic.
- Avoid buying any personal care products with polyethylene listed as an ingredient. You may not know it, but some facial scrubs and other personal care products contain tiny plastic polyethylene granules. These plastic beads (often referred to as "microbeads" on product labels) can end up in our waterways. This plastic is then rinsed down the drain, where it enters our aquatic environments.
In addition to taking these specific steps, let your friends and family know how to reduce plastic use. Fishing and conservation go hand-in-hand, so take an active role to support and protect our aquatic natural resources.