Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. It’s a phrase that’s been part of the lexicon for as long as most of us can remember. While the origins of the 3 “R”’s aren’t totally clear, there is no doubt as to the intent of the words. Few facts about modern life seem more indisputable than how busy we all are. That’s why it just seems easier to use single-use plastics that we can toss instead of wash, especially as we’re “on the go.” But, grasping for plastic straws and other single-use items has led to plastic-filled landfills and oceans.
We’re realists and recognize that we need options. Giving up single-use plastic entirely may not be doable for everyone. But we can slow down the stockpile of plastic waste by choosing sustainable alternatives, reusing and repurposing, and of course, recycling whenever we can. Together we can do more by using less. Let’s take a look at 7 simple tips to stop our dependence on single-use plastic.
Tip #1 – Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages.
Unless you’re in one of the few cities that expressly permit cocktails to-go, Step #1 only applies to your morning coffee, afternoon water break, or any other non-alcoholic beverage. Keep a clean, reusable cup in your car and pass on the plastic.
Tip #2 – Freshly squeezed juice instead of buying bottles.
Most cocktails call for fresh juice. Instead of buying a plastic jug of juice, grab a handful of fruit and start squeezing. Not only is fresh better tasting than from-concentrate juice, but you’ll also do your part to reduce your carbon footprint. Further your do-gooding and say “no” to the bag at the store, too.
Tip #3 – Bring your own container for take-out.
Is it just us or are portion sizes at restaurants getting bigger all the time? We’re not complaining – in fact, we love it because leftovers, of course. Skip the Styrofoam to-go containers and BYOT (bring your own Tupperware).
Tip #4 – Cut out plastic cutlery.
Door dashing dinner tonight? Ask the driver to leave the plastic utensils in the car. You’re home after all and can access your silverware drawer. What should you do if you’re grabbing lunch to eat in your car on the way to your next meeting? Just like bringing your own mug to the coffee shop, keep a clean fork in your glove box. If disposable is a must, seek out sustainable spoons.
Tip #5 – Party without the single-use plastic.
The sign of a good party has traditionally been the morning after – there’s trash everywhere, filling up giant plastic bags with waste. It’s time to shift the narrative and seek alternatives that minimize the waste. Let the evidence of a great time be your Insta feed blowing up with pictures of clinking glasses and a sink full of dishes.
Tip #6 – Say “no plastic straw, please.”
We can make a big difference if we sweat some of the small stuff. Ditching plastic straws may be a small change, but the rate at which we use (and toss) them creates a ton of waste. If you can’t go strawless, opt for a reusable stainless steel straw for your Big Gulp. We know a place where you can get one for free.
Tip #7 – Please don’t flush your lenses.
45 million people in the United States wear disposable contact lenses. That’s a lot of tiny pieces of plastic. We know you need them to see and that’s really important. But how you dispose of them matters. When flushed in a toilet or tossed down a sink drain instead of a garbage can, they may end up passing right through the filters at the treatment plants straight out to the ocean.