Reduce Ocean Pollution: 10 Ways to Use Less Plastic

Feb 7, 2022 | Ocean Advocacy

Tackling ocean pollution is a global responsibility. Our beloved, filter-feeding manta rays are especially vulnerable to pollution as their big mouths easily swallow stuff that just doesn’t belong there. Plastic in the ocean affects mantas in a multitude of ways, as you can read in this article.

After discussing the issue of plastic pollution in our Manta Ray Advocates Facebook group a while ago, we compiled this easy-to-do list of ideas from our followers for living with less plastic.

1. Use reusable metal straws.

Plastic straws, which cannot be recycled, are one of the most common types of litter found on beaches and in the water. Metal straws are a readily available and inexpensive way to help protect marine life.

We love this set of reusable metal straws that comes with a travel case and cleaning brushes. These collapsible metal straws are really convenient and fit in your pocket or purse.

2. Stop using plastic cutlery and plastic wrap.

To stop using plastic cutlery, just think ahead! If you are going to a restaurant that uses plastic cutlery, bring your own. When packing a lunch, remember to pack your own utensils. Be extra prepared by keeping a few clean sets in your car.

There are plenty of options for food wrapping that are more environmentally friendly than plastic wrap. Beeswax wraps are reusable and washable. We like this set of 9 wraps in assorted sizes. Of course, you can always use a glass jar or storage container!

3. Bring your own refillable water bottle or mug.

When we think of plastic pollution, we often think of plastic bags… but plastic water bottles are just everywhere, and are probably the most frequently found objects on beach cleanup actions.

We can always do better to make sure less plastic finds its way to the oceans, and we have made amazing strides in using refillable water bottles and mugs! It helps that many of these options keep your beverages hot or cold for hours longer than single-use plastic bottles.

4. Store leftovers and lunches in glass containers with lids.

Choose glass containers over plastic every single time! There are countless variety packs with assorted sizes available – and they will last a long, long time. We like this set of 24 glass storage containers.

5. “Clean” up your laundry with plastic-free options.

Switch to a laundry detergent that doesn’t use plastic packaging. Our favorite options are this cruelty-free detergent from Earth Breeze and these laundry detergent and dryer sheets from the Sheets Laundry Club.

Empty plastic containers can be easily repurposed as pooper scoopers! Patch Puppy offers simple instructions for making your DIY Pooper Scooper.

Graphic showing the 10 tips we feature in this article, with illustrations of a manta ray and two dolphins taken from the book "Notch, the Rescued Dolphin"

6. Choose a cat litter manufacturer that does not use hard plastic containers.

While some cat litter comes in plastic containers, many cat litter options come in recyclable cardboard boxes or paper bags.

Do your homework before purchasing or ordering your next batch, and support brands that use less plastic in their packaging!

7. Make your own soda water and reuse the bottles.

Making your own soda water reduces extra plastic usage – and saves you money! There are many brands of soda water makers to choose from (we like this one), and the glass bottles can be used over and over again.

8. Recycle soda cans and bottles.

It is so easy to recycle – and with recycling bins available nearly everywhere you go, there is no excuse to not recycle soda cans and plastic bottles. If you’re with people who aren’t recycling, take their cans and bottles and recycle for them. Continue setting a great example!

9. Bring your own cloth shopping bags.

Back in 2013, Hawai’i was the first state to have plastic bag reduction laws in all counties, meaning all businesses including groceries, restaurants, farmer’s markets and other retailers must comply.

I absolutely love it, and wish for more regulations that would force companies to waste less plastic.

A lot of progress has been made with cloth shopping bags as opposed to plastic bags. They can be washed and are easy to keep with you, in your purse or car, so it’s time to make the type of shopping bags a priority.

When you forget to bring your own bag, consider saying “I don’t need a bag for that” and just carry your item out of the store. It’s that simple!

10. Forgo fast food (but if you do, transport it in reusable containers.)

Fast food is not good for the environment. Partly because of the way the food is produced, partly because of the enormous amount of trash originating from the packaging.

However, many people love their fast food. If you are going to get fast food, make it a little more environmentally friendly by bringing your own containers. Simple enough, right?!


Zero Waste is Achievable!

Single-use plastic is becoming less and less popular, but we’re not there yet.

Tell us in the comments if you have more tips for us to use less plastic, so we can add them to the list!

Want to do more to protect the mantas? Get started by downloading the free manta ray ebook!

You’ll learn about the personalities of manta rays as well as the threats mantas face and how we can protect them and other marine life.

Together, there is so much we can accomplish!



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