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4 easy swaps to make to cut down on single-use plastic waste in Lakeland’s waterways

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Pollution floating on top of a Lakeland lake.

DYK? Each American uses ~13 plastic bottles per month | photo via Stormwater Division City of Lakeland

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DYK? Humans produce ~300 million tons of plastic every year – 50% of which is for single-use purposes. Experts say about 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually finds its way into waterways – and eventually the ocean.

The numbers may seem daunting, but don’t lose hope just yet, Lakeland.

The City recently launched a new program called the Water Goat to collect plastics in 4 of Lakeland’s 38 lakes. The trash collector gobbles up stormwater trash before it escapes into larger bodies of water. Yum. ♻️

Want to help out the Goat? Here are 4 easy swaps that Lakelanders can make to help bring single-use plastic pollution numbers down in our waterways + lakes:

💧 Plastic water bottles

The swap: Reusable, refillable water bottles

On average, each American uses ~13 bottles/month. Investing in a sustainable water bottle means you’ll save 156 plastic bottles from going into waterways each year. Reusable water bottles come in a variety of styles, sizes and sustainable materials like stainless steel, glass, silicone + plastic. Plus, you can cover yours with LALtoday stickers.

🥤 Plastic straws

The swap: Eco-friendly straws

Last year, experts released a study that concluded 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. (You’ve seen the turtle video – that can happen here in Lakeland, too.) The anti-straw movement is already making its way through restaurants, many who are offering alternative sipping solutions + citywide bans in major cities like Seattle and Washington D.C.

If you really can’t kick your straw habit, there are several eco-friendly straws to try. Reusable straws made from bamboo, metal or silicone are great, sustainable alternatives. Paper straws may not be reusable, but they break down quicker than plastic straws.

🛍️ Plastic bags

The swap: Reusable grocery bags

Estimates suggest Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags each year. That’s ~307 bags per person. Investing in reusable grocery bags (like this cute Florida bag from Publix) can save those bags from ending up in a lake or waterway.

🐝 Plastic wrap

The swap: Beeswax cloth

Plastic wrap is a common staple in both residential + commercial kitchens. But it’s difficult to recycle, and when it ends up in waterways, it breaks down into microplastics that harm fish who mistake it for food. Beeswax-coated fabric is easy to use + works just as well as regular plastic wrap in storing food and covering leftovers – without contributing to plastic pollution.

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