Even though plastic is only used for a short time, it stays in the environment forever. Once discarded, it’s likely to end up in landfills, waterways, and marine life. According to scientists at the US Department of the Interior and the US Geological Survey, it even shows up in rainfall samples in Denver and Boulder Colorado. The infiltration of plastic into our ecosystem is killing fish and other animals. They aren’t the only ones being harmed by plastic. A 2019 study by the University of Newcastle, Australia estimates that each person ingests five grams of microplastics per week.

Despite plastic’s public health concerns and ecological damage, it’s sturdy, cost-effective, and hard to avoid. What can consumers do when the largest grocery stores and corporations don’t have the will to phase out plastic? Identifying the most common sources of plastic is a good place to start. These include packaged foods, bottles, bottle caps, bags, straws, and takeout containers. This list will show consumers how to replace these common items with plastic-free alternatives.