According to the Earth Policy Institute, the U.S. consumes 100 billion plastic bags each year and only used for an average of 12 minutes!
According to Forbes, in the U.S. alone people throw out 200 billion paper cups and 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year!
Single use items are not only to-go cups, plastic cutlery or paper napkins. It also includes online shopping packaging, food packaging, household items, plastic bottles and MUCH MORE!
Single to minimal use items are creating devastating effects on our planet’s waterways, oceans, marine life. The things we throw “away” go somewhere and often take thousands of years to break down, if they ever do.
Acknowledging the cultural habits we have inherited and being constantly reminded how awful they are for the environment, can often leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless.
Creating less waste requires a shift in lifestyle that can come gradually over time. As more people and businesses become aware of the destructive effects of our actions, simple solutions become more accessible and widespread.
Here are some individual actions that we can take in our daily lives:
- Bring your own reusable cup, to-go containers, cloth napkin to places where you will be taking a food item with you
- Bring your own reusable bags to the market, large and small for produce and bulk items.
- Buy products with recyclable, reusable, or minimal packaging
- Write a consumer concern letter to businesses that use a lot of unnecessary packaging on their products.
Support companies creating sustainable materials, like Full Cycle Bioplastics
Easy things you can do to reduce your waste
1. Get reusable mugs and bags!
Did you know that Philz will fill up a reusable mug with your favorite coffee or latte and just charge you for a small?? This is kind of a big deal, folks.
If you purchase coffee in a reusable container 3x a week, you'll save over 150 cups a year. That could accumulate to upwards of 7,000 cups over a lifetime.
2. Print this and hang in on your door!
Don't forget your reusable mugs and bags. Print this handy PDF, tape it to the inside of your front door, and give the other 3 to friends!
2. Recycle! It's easier than you think!
For folks in SF, Recology has created a handy printable guide to help decipher which bin to toss your trash in. They recently added more items that can be recycled to support efforts to go zero waste by 2020.
For folks outside SF, check the website of your local trash pick up service for their specific recycling procedures and acceptable items.
Resources and additional reading
Books - “What We Leave Behind” by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay
- Reusable items
- Paper and Plastic bags debate
- Creative ways to reuse items
- Disposable products you can resuse
- 15,000 scientists from 184 countries warn us to change!
- 2.6 Trillion Pounds of Garbage: Where Does the World's Trash Go?
- Can plastic ever be made illegal?