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Single Use, Double Trouble

Each year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean, compounding the 150 million metric tons already circulating in our marine systems. Once they're afloat, plastics gradually break down, but never disappear, posing a threat to every kind of sea life. Experts believe that, within the next several years, there could be one pound of plastic in the water for every 3 pounds of fish.

Action Plan

Eliminating single-use plastics from your lifestyle—the best way to prevent their eventual arrival in the ocean—is a perfect place to begin your Sea Change journey.

So many consumer goods are designed for convenience, but have dire long-term consequences. Do not despair! It couldn't be easier to make smart, simple choices that are good for you, your budget and our ocean. Use these tips as your guide.

You are the Sea Change the world has been waiting for. Let's get started!

Take Stock

Think about the things you need and the purchases you make as you go through an average day, and consider some of the following items that most frequently make their way to open water. Each choice you make presents an opportunity to choose reusable over disposable or permanent over temporary. These small changes really do add up!

  • Do you fill a reusable metal or glass water bottle on your way out the door, or do you grab a single-use bottle from the fridge?
  • Do you pack lunch in reusable containers or grab pre-packaged things on the fly?
  • When you stop for groceries, do you bring a reusable tote or bag it in plastic?
  • When you buy a drink, how necessary is a straw? Does it still feel necessary when you consider that Americans dispose of about 500 million plastic straws every day?

One Month to a Healthier Ocean

Each week for the next four weeks, make it a priority to embrace and stick with a few new ocean-friendly actions that, while they may seem small, can make a big difference. Start your Sea Change journey here.

Skip the Straw

While we've become pretty dependent, straws are seldom necessary. Politely refuse straws at restaurants or whenever you find yourself faced with a choice. If you miss the straw—or have loved ones who could use the help—look online for metal or glass reusable drinking straws.

Bring Your Own Bottle (or Cup)

Filling a glass or metal water bottle on your way out the door is one thing, but keep it up all day. Many coffee retailers, convenience stores and restaurants are happy to fill your reusable bottle or mug.

Tote a Tote

Plastic shopping bags are a particular plague upon our ocean. They can be challenging to recycle, are easily airborne and, once in the water, they resemble jellyfish, which is confusing for marine mammals looking for food. Carry a reusable canvas or fabric tote along with you at all times.

Recycle Like a Pro

Of course we all do our best to make sure plastic, aluminum and paper products get recycled, but take a moment to learn about what is and is not recyclable in your area. It would be great if everything marked as recyclable truly was, but most municipalities have guidelines and exclusions for what their facilities can handle. Learn what isn't really getting recycled in your area and let this knowledge inform your purchases and habits.

Pack It Up

Meals on the go can be an opportunity to make real change...or a real drag for the environment. Convenience foods inevitably come shrink wrapped, encased in styrofoam or snapped inside of a plastic "clamshell" box. Start at home with reusable glass or metal containers and pack your own snacks and foods. You'll save money, eat better and eliminate a lot of plastic packaging over grabbing stuff on the go.

Drink Local

When happy hour rolls around, check out the ever-increasing array of local breweries and distilleries offering reusable growlers that allow you to fill up in bulk at the tap and eliminate single-serving—and single-use—cans and bottles when you reach for a beer or cocktail. You'll probably discover some high-quality, delicious, artisanal options while you're at it.