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10 Lazy Ways to Save Our Oceans from Plastic Waste

Updated: Jun 12, 2018

A small sea horse carries a plastic q-tip. Photograph by Justin Hofman.

Did you know that plastic grocery bags are only used for an average of 12 minutes, and once disposed, have the potential to impact the lives of nearly 700 ocean species?

Here's another question: do you think those those 12 minutes are worth the environmental damage?

Yup, we didn't think so--which is why we've put together a list of easy things you can do to decrease the amount of plastic in our oceans. The good news is it doesn't take much effort to make a difference.

Here's how you can help:

1. Opt for reusable shopping bags, like Pact bags, of course! Made with 100% recyclable materials, and in multiple styles, Pact bags are a no brainer. Don't sacrifice looks for sustainability--with Pact, sustainability looks good on you!

2. Say no to straws! When ordering drinks at a bar or restaurant, just inform your server that you'd like to skip the straw. However, if you absolutely need one, there are tons of reusable straws on the market that you can toss in your handbag for whenever you might need it.

3. Save and reuse glass containers whenever you can. That glass peanut butter jar [that you abashedly finished with a spoon last night] can come in handy for storing food at home or taking soups and salads on the go.

4. Need to light some candles? Choose matches over plastic lighters. The best part? You can usually get them for free at restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and other businesses. They are also delightfully ~vintage~ and smell great!

5. If you're packing lunch, opt for reusable containers and thermoses over plastic bags. There are even some reusable food bags on the market!

6. Stop buying bottled water--bring your own bottle instead! Most places have self-serving taps or water fountains. If there aren't any in sight--just ask. Most places that sell food or beverages are legally obliged to fill you up!

7. Look for face washes and toothpastes that are free of polypropylene and/or polyethylene. These tiny pieces of plastic (like the tiny beads in exfoliants) are almost impossible for wastewater treatment facilities to filter, so take a wild guess where they end up: the ocean. And while you're at it, make sure the sunscreen you're buying is devoid of oxybenzone, a chemical known to bleach coral reefs.

8. Shop fresh at farm stands, farmer's markets, and local bakeries. They often package their produce, eggs, breads, pastries, and other goodies in paper, cardboard, or glass--not one plastic container in sight! So support your local shops and farms--and don't forget to bring your own bag!

9. Keep an eye out for easy grocery store switches. For instance, buy the milk in the paper carton, and the laundry detergent in the cardboard box, as opposed to plastic packaging alternatives. You'll be surprised how much plastic you can eliminate without making vast changes to your shopping routine! If you want to go a step further, try using bar soap to wash your dishes.

10. Ordering take-out for a night in? Bring your own food containers! This will also reduce your waste and the amount of trash bags you will use.

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