5 Ways You Can Calculate How Much Plastic Waste You Generate in a Year

The amount of plastic you use might shock you!

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It is getting very easy to avoid using plastic today. There are zero waste supermarkets from Texas to Canada and across the pond in the UK. You can buy bamboo toothbrushes, edible spoons, and metal reusable straws.

But we do not live in a vacuum and it is close to impossible to be completely plastic-free. So how much plastic waste are you generating? The results might surprise you and maybe even shock you.

The amount of plastic in our landfills and oceans is staggering. We produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year and over half of it is single-use. We do not know how long it takes for plastic to break down but it has been calculated to take up to 450 years for a plastic bottle and up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose.

Now, you can calculate your own plastic waste, and in some cases, even view the growing pile of plastic with some of these five tools. Each of them is designed to calculate the amount of plastic you consume as a way to get you to change your habits to more sustainable choices.

“We wanted to raise the awareness of plastic pollution and–most importantly–our individual impact,” Hanna Pamula, who created the tool for Omni Calculator told Fast Company. “Many may claim that it doesn’t matter, as we use way less plastic than big companies, but when we’re looking at yearly or lifetime plastic use, the amount is horrifying. Also, as customers, we have a strong influence on the companies by our everyday choices.”

1. Omni Calculator

This plastic footprint calculator was created to help you see the impact your purchases make in a year. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions about how many plastic bottles, take-out containers, plastic straws, and other plastic products you buy in a week and it will calculate your yearly use and your lifetime use.

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2. Greenpeace UK Calculator

This calculator also asks about your weekly purchases including plastic bags and then shows you the amount of plastic you use on the screen. Then the amount of your plastic is multiplied by the household population in the UK to illustrate how pervasive a problem plastic waste is. The calculator comes with some helpful tips on how to reduce your plastic consumption.

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3. My Little Plastic Footprint

This App from the Plastic Soup Foundation takes the concept even further by helping you track your progress as you head towards zero waste. It's a calculator and a cheering section in one.

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4. Earthday Plastic Calculator

Use this calculator to calculate your plastic consumption and to make a plan to reduce it. You can track your daily, monthly, and yearly plastic consumption as well as your yearly personal reduction. Earthday.org doesn't take not reducing plastic usage as a choice.

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5. Carbon Footprint Plastic Calculator

This quiz like calculator tracks your plastic consumption at home and when you are out and about. A score of 50 or below ranks you a low plastic ninja while 150 or more admonishes that the elephant in the room is your plastic footprint.

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