My Favorite Swaps to Reduce Plastic Waste #PlasticFreeJuly

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Scientists predict than in less than 10 years, there will be 250 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean, more plastic in the ocean than there are fish.

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges the world faces today. In the United States alone, a single person throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastics per year, an insane number, but not surprising as single use plastic surrounds us daily. Think about the straw in your Starbucks coffee, the disposable utensils at the take out place, the red solo cups during beer pong and the water bottles we use/buy out of convenience. The amount of plastic we toss out each year can circle the Earth four times - yes, four times.

Most of the plastics we dispose end up in landfills, then makes their way into our waterways and even ends up in the seafood we consume. Scientists have found plastic in 22% of marine mammals, sea turtles and fish species, a damage to our marine ecosystem and food chain. In addition to threatening wildlife and the environment, plastic pollution is detrimental to our health. A single piece of plastic contains harmful chemicals linked to cancers and other health issues, even BPA in canned foods.

You’re probably thinking, “But I recycle,” but did you know that only nine percent of the world’s plastic is recycled? Most plastics take more than 400 years to degrade and not all of them are biodegradable. My goal isn't to deter you from recycling - we should do it whenever we can, but I want to bring awareness to the harm caused by plastic pollution.

Growing up, my parents struggled financially and were uneducated. We did not know much about plastic pollution, but due to finances, we were forced to be sustainable in the sense that we reused what we had and didn’t buy more than what we needed. This included reusing plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, containers and anything else we got for free with our take out or that they took extra of from McDonalds (seriously.) It wasn’t until I was older when I realized that plastic water bottles are not meant to be refilled, it was to be avoided; and only in the recent years did I start becoming more aware of the environmental damages my everyday action can cause.

In my efforts to be more sustainable and conscientious of my home - the planet and my body - I’ve replaced some single use plastics with more useful and reusable tools. #PlasticFreeJuly supports the UN’s SDG’s and is a global movement to help raise awareness about the amount of plastic we use daily. This means, #ChooseToRefuse take out containers, single use utensils, water bottles and cups.

I know I am lucky and privileged enough to be able to have the option of refusing plastic when I can. This is not to say that everyone must stop using plastic; that’s an infeasible demand, as I’ve experienced in my upbringing and even to this day, I am trying to explain to my parents that plastic is deadly to the planet and their health. Not everyone has the resources, finances and education to be able to be zero waste or plastic free; nor am I perfect in 100% avoiding plastic, but I believe in the effort of trying.

I am supporting Plastic Free July to the best of my abilities by using my favorite plastic alternatives:

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Stainless Steel Straw
I bring one with me everywhere, they come in handy at restaurants and in the office.

Tote Bag
This tote bag came with my New Yorker Magazine subscription and the New Yorker in me loves it. I carry my lunch in it, use it for groceries and even when I travel. Currently, one of my other tote bags is being used as gym bag.

Produce Bags
Instead of using those clear plastic bags for produce, invest in some produce bags. They come in different sizes and helps with grocery shopping. Plus, they're machine washable!

Water Bottle
My Klean Kanteen reusable bottle (offering a 30% code for #PlasticFreeJuly) is my number one. I use this every day; it's so convenient to throw in my bag, keeps my water cool and makes sure I stay dehydrated. 

Mason Jars
These are super versatile. I use them for drinks, food storage and as to-go cups. I've started using them to bring iced coffee to work so I don't use the office's Keurig or spend money on a $5 coffee.

Coffee Straw
I only got this a few months ago, but Koffie Straw is by far one of the best things I've discovered. I like drinking coffee and tea with a straw to help my teeth stay white. Koffie Straws are made of silicone, so they're perfect for hot drinks.

Beeswax Wrap
Though it can be a bit pricey, it's worth the investment. Beeswrap is a reusable alternative to plastic wrap. Personally, I think it's easier to use; it molds to the shape of the item you are wrapping and doesn't stick to each other.

Food Containers
My favorite food storage containers are from Glasslock. They're made of glass so it does get heavy if you're carrying multiple of them, but it's microwave safe and leak proof, making it perfect for work, taking your leftovers to go or just to store anything in the fridge.

Stainless Steel Straw
I bring one with me everywhere, they come in handy at restaurants and in the office.

Tote Bag
This tote bag came with my New Yorker Magazine subscription and the New Yorker in me loves it. I carry my lunch in it, use it for groceries and even when I travel. Currently, one of my other tote bags is being used as gym bag.

Produce Bags
Instead of using those clear plastic bags for produce, invest in some produce bags. They come in different sizes and helps with grocery shopping. Plus, they're machine washable!

Water Bottle
My Klean Kanteen reusable bottle (offering a 30% code for #PlasticFreeJuly) is my number one. I use this every day; it's so convenient to throw in my bag, keeps my water cool and makes sure I stay dehydrated. 

Mason Jars
These are super versatile. I use them for drinks, food storage and as to-go cups. I've started using them to bring iced coffee to work so I don't use the office's Keurig or spend money on a $5 coffee.

Coffee Straw
I only got this a few months ago, but Koffie Straw is by far one of the best things I've discovered. I like drinking coffee and tea with a straw to help my teeth stay white. Koffie Straws are made of silicone, so they're perfect for hot drinks.

Beeswax Wrap
Though it can be a bit pricey, it's worth the investment. Beeswrap is a reusable alternative to plastic wrap. Personally, I think it's easier to use; it molds to the shape of the item you are wrapping and doesn't stick to each other.

Food Containers
My favorite food storage containers are from Glasslock. They're made of glass so it does get heavy if you're carrying multiple of them, but it's microwave safe and leak proof, making it perfect for work, taking your leftovers to go or just to store anything in the fridge.