Your first option is to Refuse. Did you know there’s another step you can take as you “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” (the three R’s)? It’s the fourth ‘R’ for “Refuse”. When you make refusing the first option you’ll begin saying NO to many items. For example, “refuse” to accept single-use plastic items, which have an average life span of 15 minutes before they are thrown away. Where’s away? A significant amount of single-use items are improperly disposed as litter, which is why much of the plastic found floating in our oceans is disposable/single-use plastic, such as plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway containers, cups and straws. Pro-actively say NO to single-use items with your drink order and bring your own reusable straw. Refuse to use a disposable plastic or paper cup at the coffee machine or water cooler. Say NO to plastic bags in the checkout line. Be prepared and bring your own reusable items. Refuse to accept that ‘it’s just the way it is’ and challenge yourself to find the waste-free alternatives for straws, napkins, beverage containers, and the other disposable items we’ve become accustomed to accepting and using.
Reduce the amount of plastic needing disposal. Consider reusable bags for the grocery store and reusable rather than disposable containers for food storage and packing to go. Your purchasing decisions can make a meaningful difference.
Reuse plastic containers in creative ways. An internet search for “reusing plastic bottles” will turn up some great ideas for household organizers and craft projects. Many plastic take-out food containers can be washed and reused.
Recycle. In theory, all materials are recyclable; however, the curbside recycling program only accepts certain materials. Think before you throw. When in doubt, throw it out.
Put loose (not bagged), clean, dry, empty plastic bottles and jugs (with caps on if you have the cap) in the recycling bin at home or work, or take to a recycling drop-off center at I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex.