Today’s Solutions: June 24, 2022

It’s getting easier to avoid plastic. Zero-waste grocery stores, from Brooklyn to Hong Kong to Berlin, sell food without plastic packaging. It’s possible to buy plastic-free toothbrushes, cardboard poop scoopers for your dog, and biodegradable vibrators (made from plastic, but plant-based). Still, plastic is ubiquitous, and most of us probably buy at least one item made from the material or packaged in it every day. A handful of calculators are designed to help you estimate how much you’re contributing to the problem. One tool, from a startup called Omni Calculator, asks simple questions about a typical week, tallying up how many plastic bottles or takeaway boxes or yogurt containers you use, and then telling you roughly how many pounds of plastic you use in a year or that you’ll use in your lifetime. Another, from Greenpeace’s U.K. office, adds up the number of plastic items you buy and then forces you to scroll through a visual representation of your annual pile of trash. An app called My Little Plastic Footprint goes further, helping users track their progress toward zero waste over time. Using these tools may not be the most pleasant experience (unless you already live zero waste), but it can serve as a wake-up call that allows you to see the connection between your daily habits and the effect they have on the environment.

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