Top 10 Eco-friendly Substitutes for Plastic

More than 93 billion plastic drink containers end up in U.S. landfills annually. See more Green Science Pictures.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Plastics. They're durable, flexible and long-lasting. They're also everywhere.

What's not to love about these ubiquitous polymers? They're made from carbon and other materials then heated, broken down and rebuilt as plastic resin that can be molded into almost any shape desired.

That carbon, though, typically comes from oil, a fossil fuel-product that's not so good for the environment. In addition, many types of plastics aren't biodegradable. And although some plastics can be recycled, most aren't (either because they can't be or because people don't). For example, only around one-quarter of 1 percent of the more than 7 billion pounds (3.2 billion kilograms) of discarded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is recycled each year in the U.S., and PVC is one of the world's most common plastics [source: Clean Air Council].

Yet plastics are so ingrained in our everyday lives that it's hard to imagine life without them. More eco-friendly alternatives are out there though. Ready to meet 10 of them?

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