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Simple ways you can reduce use of single-use plastics

Take the pledge to reduce using single-use plastics during "Plastic Free July."

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Worldwide, 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced in a single year. 'Plastic Free July' challenges people to make some small changes to reduce their use of plastics. 

It's not just a global problem, but a local problem too. About a half dozen teens did their part recently to help clean up Gandy Beach. Devon Francke with Keep Pinellas Beautiful says it's part of their summer clean-up series for teens. 

"We find a lot of different kinds of litter and trash out here. Plastic, single-use plastic is definitely the most common type of item we find across the board no matter where we are."

It's a problem across the country, but in the bay area Francke says it can really mess up our beautiful beaches.

"Everything we litter on land does end up eventually working its way out to the ocean." And that's the bread and butter of our local economy. "So we live in Florida where clearly we need a lot of tourism to come here. And if we have dirty beaches, the tourism probably isn't going to happen. People don't want to come and relax on beaches that are covered in litter."

That's why there's a push to get people to make small changes in their lifestyle to reduce their use of plastics. 

"It's about slowing down the waste streams, slowing down the litter and that's what it's all about. It does, it just takes all of us just a little bit."

He says if each person made one small change, it could make a big difference. "We're moving in the right direction, but there's still so far that we have to go. It's up to all of us that we all just have to do our part to protect the environment. So it can be real easy."

Small changes can be as simple as remembering to bring your reusable totes to the grocery store. Get a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Also, try reusable utensils in your lunch box instead of the single-use forks, knives and spoons that you will just throw away. Click here for more ways to go plastic-free.

RELATED: New law gives local governments authority to ban smoking on Florida beaches

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