I can think of a few ways everyone can help reduce the amount of plastic pollution and none of them will drastically change your life. They include: recycling plastic containers, not using plastic bags at the grocery store, drinking tap water instead of bottled water, and urging state representatives to pass “Bottle Bills” in your home state.
In high school I recycled because we had recycling pick-up, but when I moved to Fargo for college I stopped because my apartment doesn’t have a recycling bin. After watching the two documentaries mentioned in my earlier posts, I started recycling again. I just throw all my recycling (plastic containers, food cans, aluminum cans, glass, etc.) into a separate garbage can and either bring it with to my parents house when I go home, or bring it to the city recycling bins at a local grocery store. I was surprised by how much less I had to take out the garbage after I started recycling. It seems like half of what I used to throw away is able to be recycled. Recycling symbol taken from: http://www.proprofs.com/games/puzzle/sliding/upload/265095_1268134467.jpg
After the Red River level began to drop after the flood this spring I was driving by the river and there were plastic bags caught in tree branches that the river carried into them. I don’t really like using plastic bags because they seem to accumulate in a closet and pretty soon there is a shelf full of them. I usually don't take a bag when I go to the grocery store anymore; instead, I’ll leave my groceries in the cart and bring them to my car and put them in reusable bags that you can get at pretty much any grocery store. Also, I work as a cashier at a local hardware store and I don’t give bags to people who only have a couple items unless they ask for one. It might be poor customer service but lets get real; what is the point of putting one or two items that you can carry perfectly fine without a bag into a bag? The picture below was taken from http://flickamag.com/2010/11/18/plastic-state-of-mind/.
Also, I have almost stopped drinking bottled water completely after watching the documentaries. I have started using a refillable stainless steel water bottle to bring with to class or work. If you are really convinced that bottled water is better for you than tap water, go out and buy a filter for your faucet or a pitcher with a filter in it because a lot of bottled water is just filtered tap water anyway according to “Tapped”. The bottle on the right is sold by Riverkeeper, an organization that is working to protect the Hudson River in order to ensure safe drinking water for New York City's residents (https://secure3.convio.net/river/site/Ecommerce/1475576416?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=1201&store_id=1241).
Another thing you can do to stop pollution caused by plastic is to urge your state representative to introduce a Bottle Bill in your home state. According to “Tapped”, bottle bills are where consumers pay a small deposit for the bottle they are purchasing (included in the purchase) and the deposit is returned to them when they recycle the bottle. In states where bottle bills are in effect, the money made from the bottle bills fund recycling programs so government funding isn’t needed and recycling rates are way higher than the national average. 11 states in our country have bottle bills and in the states that return 5 cents, the return rate is about 70%; when the return is 10 cents like in Michigan, the return rate is about 97%. Below is a diagram of how the deposit/refund works in a bottle bill (http://www.bottlebill.org/about/whatis.htm).