It has recently been reported by multiple environmental agencies, including the EPA, that in 2015, the U.S. only recycled nine percent of its recyclable waste. It‘s estimated to have dropped lower than that percentage in the past year alone.
Here’s how to do your part in raising that number:
The first thing to do is to ditch easily disposable items such as straws, coffee cups, and water bottles. Switch to metal straws, which can be found in various stores and on Amazon for about 10 in a pack for a reasonable price. There are also various places to buy reusable water bottles in grocery stores, and online in places like 4Ocean.com and other websites.
A reusable coffee mug is also becoming increasingly easy to find and use. Most coffee shops are now selling them and will often offer a discount if a reusable mug is used. Furthermore, some places, such as Wawa, will not be picky on which reusable mug is used. Depending on where you live, it is helpful to purchase and use plates and eating utensils that can be washed and reused.
When going shopping, be sure to have reusable bags or at least use paper bags, if you don’t have an alternative. This will help to reduce plastic bags and stop the bags from being dumped into the ocean.
When it comes to eating, make sure to have a metal lunch box for your workplace or school. Another option is to change from buying yogurt in plastic containers and change to companies, like Oui, that sell their yogurt in glass jars.
Eating out all the time increases the amount of waste being used and will quickly add up. Most take out places or containers are made of plastic, which will likely not be recycled. By bringing your own lunch to work or by eating meals you make at home, this will drastically decrease the amount of plastic being used.
If you go to farmer’s markets instead of the grocery stores, if applicable, it will cut down on the plastic in your home and what is being used to package the products. You will also help cut out the middleman and help farmers.
If you eat cereal often, or are living with others that like different kinds, stop buying brands that use cardboard. Try to get the bagged alternatives as it allows for less energy to be used when the packaging materials are being recycled.
Instead of using Tupperware or other plastic materials, use mason jars, glass bottles or steel containers to store leftover food.
For the trash that cannot be recycled or composted, throw it out in a trash bag that is biodegradable, such as Biobags. It will help decrease the waste in landfills when it goes back into the earth.
When in the bathroom, use a bar of soap in the shower instead of soap out of plastic bottles. When purchasing your next shower curtain, try to buy one made of hemp, cloth or bamboo. You should also replace your plastic, disposable razors with non-disposable, metal ones.
If you are a new parent or taking care of a baby that is still in diapers, use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones. They are good for 75 to 100 washes and are often good when,or if,the next child is born. The cloth diapers are a less expensive option, saving the buyer about $800-$1600 in savings in 6000 diaper changes or what equals to two and half years.
Changing from the easiness of plastic may seem daunting, but overtime, can be made rather easily and can help save the environment.