91% of plastics are NEVER recycled!
For this reason, we are making efforts to move beyond recycling of single-use packaging, and think about how to upcycle and reuse common household items instead.
But first, it is important to understand what recycling is, and more importantly what it is not.
“Our packaging is recyclable” is used by many companies to attract environmentally-minded customers. And while using recyclable packaging is a step towards better consumption, there is no complete removal of the item from the waste stream. Recyclable packaging can take up to 1,000 years to breakdown, and the smallest fragments are still a risk to hungry wildlife and our waterways. Additionally, the process to recycle materials that do ultimately make it through the waste stream to a recycling center produces pollution and uses energy, both of which are eliminated by upcyling or reusing existing usable items.
Undeniably, recyclable single-use items do serve an important role in our modern, urban lives but the true issue remains our general “throw-away” consumption habits.
Ultimately, the most eco-friendly choices are to be conscious of the plastics and other single-use recyclables you purchase, the less plastic consumers use, the less plastics end up in the waste stream!
Below are 5 easy tips for your household to transition to the plastic-free lifestyle.
- Bulk shopping– bring glass jars or reusable containers and buy items such as rice, pasta, beans etc. in bulk to eliminate single-use packaging from your trash
- Reusable bags– upcycled fabric bags are fun and replace plastic grocery bags (and that $0.10 tax!)
- Buy secondhand– clothes and furniture are the perfect items to buy secondhand to reduce the production of new products (and the pollution associated with the process) Additionally, these items have shown their durability and are a great option for quality items at a lower price, so savings for you and the environment
- “Buy Nothing” groups – these local groups provide opportunities to gift, borrow, or rent items that others have finished using but would like to pass on to others in need. Check out Facebook for the Buy Nothing page closest to you
- Upcycling– reuse items and materials you already have (pasta sauce jars can be reused when bulk shopping!) or learn to DIY instead of buying a brand new product. We love to cut up old milk jugs for easy and cheap plant markers in the garden!
Here are more ways to live a low-impact lifestyle