Why and how to reduce single-use plastic consumption in your life

Feb 28, 2024, 1:00 PM

CLIFFE, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 13: Plastic and other detritus lines the shoreline of the Thames e...

CLIFFE, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 13: Plastic and other detritus lines the shoreline of the Thames estuary on January 13, 2023 in Cliffe, United Kingdom. It is estimated that about eight million metric tons of plastic find their way into the world's oceans every year. Once in the Ocean plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade, all the while breaking down into smaller and smaller 'microplastics,' which can be consumed by marine animals, and find their way into the human food chain. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Smithsonian Magazine reported that the United States produced 40 million tons of plastic waste in 2021. Only about two million tons were recycled, however. The rest of the plastic, including single-use plastic, ended up in landfills or getting incinerated.

Recycling is a way to extend the life of single-use plastics, however, it is not the best way to reduce your environmental impact. More plastic has ended up in landfills, came to rest in the environment, or been incinerated. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review reported that only about 9% of all plastic was recycled. In contrast, 72% found its way into landfills or the environment. 19% was incinerated. 

The National Institute of Health reported that incinerating, or burning, plastic can send toxins into the air. Breathing the microplastics, bisphenols, and phthalates can cause brain development issues and endocrine and reproductive functions. 

Plastics that end up in the environment can end up killing wildlife, which in turn could disrupt ecosystems and threaten food supplies. Additionally, if the animals we eat consume plastic, it can end up inside of us, in the form of microplastics. Similar to the burning of plastics, consuming microplastics can lead to health issues, per the NIH

Ditch the single-use plastic drinkware

Behavioral modifications can make it easier for you to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste you produce. 

Firstly, carrying around a reusable beverage bottle can reduce your consumption of single-use coffee cups or water bottles.

Even the paper cups used to serve hot cocoa or coffee contain plastic. They’re lined with it, making them unrecyclable. 

Earthday.org reported that Americans use about 50 million plastic water bottles each year. Earthday.org’s estimate did not account for other single-use vessels, so the number could even be higher. 

Using a reusable beverage bottle could save about 156 plastic water bottles each year. 

Additionally, some chains such as Starbucks and local chain Bjorn’s Brew, offer discounts when you bring and refill a bottle. 

Water bottle refilling stations have also become more common in recent years, placed in locations such as airports and national parks

Secondly, on the topic of drinkware, you can stop using single-use plastic straws. According to Be Straw Free, the United States consumes about 500 million plastic straws every day. 

If you can pass on the straw, request your drink without one. If you need or prefer to use one, reusable options are available. Made of aluminum, silicone, or glass, they often come with storage cases and cleaning supplies. 

Despite their reputation, paper straws were found to be worse for humans and the environment than their plastic counterparts. Belgian researchers found that paper straws can contain more harmful chemicals than plastic. 

Adopt reusable shopping bags

Thirdly, begin carrying reusable shopping bags. The Center for Biological Diversity reported that Americans use about 365 single-use plastic bags per year. 

While the single-use plastic bags often provided by grocery stores are recyclable, they can not be placed in your home recycling bin.

Salt Lake County said that they have to be taken back to the store and placed in a specific recycling bin.

Additionally, the World Wildlife Fund said that the lightweight bags can be blown out of garbage trucks or landfills, potentially ending up in nature and harming wildlife. 

Furthermore, plastic bags take about 1,000 years to decompose, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. As they slowly decompose, they turn into toxins. As mentioned above, toxins can enter our bodies through the food chain and microplastics, increasing our risk for some health conditions. 

It should be noted that there are many more ways to reduce your single-use plastic consumption.

Reduced single-use plastic consumption can lead to less of it ending up in landfills or our environment. 




We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Warm weather will all for some of the Utah snowpack to begin melting off this weekend....

Adam Small

Utah temperatures warming up, strong snowpack set to start melting

Temperatures in Utah are going to get much warmer over the next few days, allowing for the snowpack we've accumulated to start melting off.

1 day ago

Water releases are being conducted at Panguitch Lake dam in order to prevent a big crack from from ...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

‘It looks a lot better than it did,’ officials say of Panguitch Lake dam situation

Utah engineers say there are indications the damage found at the Panguitch Lake dam on Monday may not be as severe as initially feared.

1 day ago

A rattlesnake coils up in a rock crevice in San Juan County on Monday, April 26, 2021....

Mariah Maynes

Remaining safe while recreating near rattlesnakes

As temperatures begin to warm, rattlesnakes emerge from their dens. People are also heading outside for activities such as hiking and climbing, increasing the chances of encounters. 

2 days ago

Wildfire Academy students dig a handline, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Prescott, Ariz. Forecasters ar...

TY ONEIL Associated Press

U.S. wildfires are prompting changes in firefighting workforce

Forecasters are warning that the potential for wildfires will be above normal in some areas across the United States over the coming months as temperatures rise and rain becomes sparse.

2 days ago

Two people fishing on a boat at Panguitch Lake for a DWR spring survey....

Kennedy Camarena

Emergency fishing closure issued for Panguitch Lake

An emergency fishing closure has been activated at Panguitch Lake due to public safety concerning a crack in the reservoirs dam.

2 days ago

A screenshot from the Utah Division of Natural Resources website shows information about Panguitch ...

Kira Hoffelmeyer and Michael Camit

Panguitch Lake dam has a growing crack, residents on notice to evacuate

Some people in Garfield County are on standby to evacuate this morning because of growing concerns about a crack in the Panguitch Lake Dam.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Why and how to reduce single-use plastic consumption in your life