This easy challenge could make a big difference in raising your family's awareness about how widely we use plastic products

"The plastic swear challenge" is meant to highlight how much plastic we use every day. By Mayumi Maruyama, CNN

(CNN) -- It's a challenge that lasts just one week. But it'll likely make you and your family better stewards of the planet.

"The plastic swear challenge" is meant to highlight how much plastic we use every day.

The rules are simple: Every time you use a single-use plastic item, place a dollar (or whatever seems fair) in your dedicated "swear" jar.

At the end of the week, donate the money to charity.

It's the brainchild of Changing Tides Foundation, a California-based nonprofit. The nonprofit was started by female surfers who strive to empower women and protect the planet.

The inspiration for the challenge came when a co-founder realized she kept forgetting her reusable utensils three times a week. To hold herself accountable and build awareness, the "plastic swear jar" was born.

Think of it as Earth's piggy bank, the organization says.

The beauty of the challenge is that it's a very hands-on way for families to educate themselves on plastic waste. The goal is for all of us to conserve more.

Scientists call plastic litter "one of this generation's key environmental challenges."

Millions of tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, polluting our seas, littering our beaches and endangering wildlife.

Plastic can take centuries to break down, and instead of quietly disappearing beneath the waves, it has a way of coming back to haunt us.

Great chunks of plastic have been found inside the stomachs of everything from seabirds to whales, while tiny microplastics are eaten by fish and other sea creatures, ending up as part of the food chain.

That same plastic can even end up in humans. A recent study found that globally, we are swallowing a credit card's weight in plastic every week -- although that doesn't all come from the oceans.

"We want to show that with just a little modification of your daily life, you can make a difference, not only for our own future, but for our children too," Executive Director Becky Mendoza said.

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