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Plastic Bags Are Actually Worse Than We Thought, But These Hacks Can Help

Deccan Chronicle

When Starbucks announced that they will phase out plastic straws from all its locations by 2020, the world woke up.

People around the globe started talking about plastic pollution and posting facts about how more than 1 million birds fall victim to plastic consumption and hundreds of thousands of marine animals consume these products every year.

The reality is that plastic pollution has been a problem from decades.

It's estimated that Americans alone use approximately 500 million plastic straws every day.

It's great to see companies starting to make a difference to lessen their plastic straw consumption, but there are even more issues that need to be addressed when it comes to single-use plastic.

For example, approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used in America each year.

New research from the University of Hawaii at Manoa found that plastic bags are a hidden source of greenhouse gases.

When exposed to light, the plastic releases methane and ethylene, which are two of the main climate-warming gases.

Of course, plastic bags aren't contributing to global emissions as much as factories and vehicles, but if we don't start curbing our plastic consumption, it's only going to add more fuel to the fire.

"It's very worrying, because all the plastic we've produced since 1950 is still here on Earth, and it's degrading as we speak, so it will produce more and more [methane]," Sarah-Jeanne Royer, the lead researcher on the paper. told Live Science.

And according to the Center for Biological Diversity, "it only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile."

It's not only plastic bags that are emitting greenhouse gases.

According to the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One, other plastic products are doing the same thing.

One plastic in particular, low-density polyethylene, was found to emit greenhouse gases even after it was removed from sunlight.

According to lessplastic.co.uk, there are many simple ways you can reduce plastic waste to save the environment, and the money in your pocket.

1. Store reusable bags in the trunk of your car

Always keep reusable bags in your trunk so that you remember to take them with you inside the mall or grocery store.

Keep this habit up and you'll be saying goodbye to plastic bags in no time!

If you don't have enough reusable grocery bags with comfortable handles, Amazon is selling 10-pack reusable grocery tote bags that come in all different colors for only $18. That's less than $2 for each bag!

2. Place leftovers in glass jars

If you don't have a collection of mason jars in your home, once your jam and pickle jars are empty, wash them out and reuse them for leftovers.

I've seen many people bring their own glass jar to a restaurant to store their leftovers.

If you're looking for a good deal on mason jars, Amazon is selling twelve 16 oz jars for only $18.

3. Pack your lunch in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers

Not only is reheating food in plastic containers bad for your health, these hard plastics are also wreaking havoc on the environment.

If you're looking for a good deal on glass food storage containers, Amazon is offering a nine containers with sturdy BPA-free lids for only $32.

4. Stop using disposable straws  

As more people are switching from plastic straws to disposable ones, reusable drinking straws that come with a brush are becoming very popular.

You can get a set of four stainless steel straws for only $4 on Amazon, and the best part is that shipping is free!

If you're interested in getting a collapsible one, click here.

5. Carry a reusable water bottle

I don't leave the house without a reusable water bottle. It not only lessens your plastic consumption, it also saves you money in the long run.

Also, did you know that a health review by the World Health Organization found that more than 90% of bottled water brands contains tiny pieces of plastic.

That's enough to make you to buy a glass or stainless steel water bottle.

My favorite is OPZSAYB's insulated stainless steel water bottle, because it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It's on sale right now for $10!

6. Dine in

Takeout is great, but the plastic that comes with it isn't. Dining in is the best way to curb plastic consumption.

7. Say no plastic cutlery

If you use two pieces of plastic cutlery every day at your full-time job, you're accumulating approximately 40 pieces of single-use cutlery waste in just a month.

Turn that number into zero and buy this portable washable travel cutlery kit from Amazon for only $10.

8. Use matches

Cigarette lighters come in all pretty designs, but once the fuel is gone, most people toss the plastic in the trash.

If you're a smoker or an avid camper, carry matches with you instead.

9. Clean your home using natural ingredients

Many people are cleaning green to save money, and in turn they're also saving the environment.

Use reusable bottles to store your natural cleaning ingredients so that you don't have to make a trip to the store to buy more plastic bottles.

Besides, you also won't feel bad about dumping chemicals down the drain.

10. Help clean up

If you see plastic waste, whether it be on the beach, grass, or sidewalk, pick it up.

I know there are people who get paid to do that job, but as a inhabitant of this planet, it's everybody's job to keep our home clean.

Share these tips and help raise more awareness about plastic pollution!

If you're interested in figuring out how your lifestyle is affecting climate change, click here to calculate your carbon footprint.

[H/T: Live Science / Weather Network / Mother Nature Network]

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Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.