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The world’s citizens collectively generate 3.5 million tons of solid waste every day. This trash accumulates into mountains of landfills on the earth and garbage patches in the oceans. The urgency of pollution’s impact and growing frustration with commercialism are driving the zero waste movement.

The concept of a zero waste lifestyle may seem overwhelming and extreme. However, it is far from an all-or-nothing way of living. Zero waste proponents encourage everyone to reduce trash and buy less. These simple changes can help you embrace zero — or at least less — waste.

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1. Sack Plastic and Paper Bags

Americans are using 100 billion disposable plastic bags each year. Single-use totes carry groceries for only about 12 minutes, but the bags can take more than 500 years to degrade. One grave consequence: 100,000 marine animals and one million birds die annually from plastic bag pollution. Meanwhile, more than 14 million trees in the US become paper shopping bags every year. It takes 13% more energy to produce one paper bag than two plastic ones.

Everyone using reusable totes could help keep more than 22,000 disposable bags out of the environment. Keep a stash of bags made from materials such as canvas or cotton handy. Place them near your door or in your car so you’ll always be ready to pack purchases without the extra plastic. If you forget to bring the totes into the store, go back to your car and get them — it'll help your steps for the day!

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.