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Since plastics were first introduced to the U.S. during the mid-late 19th century, we’ve been dependent on the material for it’s versatility, convenience, and function. Currently, plastics are one of the most used materials on a volume basis in U.S. industrial and commercial life. Unfortunately, the sheer mass of plastic used to make containers, packaging, appliances, plates, cups, and so forth has gravely impacted the environment. An estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic occupy each square mile of ocean and at least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
Alternative materials—such as reclaimed wood, steel, and glass—can help gradually reduce our reliance on plastic and pose less of an impact on the Earth. Reducing plastic use can range from short term decisions—swapping plastic sandwich bags for washable canvas or throwaway plastic utensils for metal ones—to more long term changes, such as trading in your plastic picnic tables for reclaimed wood barn tables. Making smart swaps can make a big difference over time.