We’ve been told for years that recycling will be the answer to all our single-use plastic problems. It’s AN answer, but it is by no means the only answer. It’s really the last answer. In fact, it should be the final step for each one of us, if we really want to reduce the amount of plastic in our communities, waterways and oceans.
You’ll notice where recycling is on this inverted pyramid. It’s at the bottom!!!
The most important thing we can do is the first R, REFUSE: Just say no to single-use plastic altogether wherever possible. Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags, instead of buying bottles of water, carry a stainless steel water bottle. Say no thanks to plastic forks and knives with your take-out meal, and say no to plastic straws at fast food places and restaurants, etc.
The next R on the pyramid is REDUCE: When you look at the grocery store aisles, almost everything is in plastic! As much as you can, just reduce the amount of plastic that you bring into your home. Choose the loose lettuce rather than bagged lettuce. And tell your grocery store that you’d like to see food that’s not surrounded by plastic. Customers at Trader Joe’s and Aldo’s brought about real change that way.
The next “R” is reuse – Turn disposable plastic and glass into something reusable! That empty glass jar can be used to store and even freeze leftovers. And rinse and reuse those Ziploc bags.!
The next R is REPURPOSE: For everything that can’t be refused, reduced or reused, try repurposing creatively. We can think outside the box! An empty milk jug can be used as a watering can, plastic tubs or glass jars are great ways to store snacks, serve as a pencil cup, a holder for your paint brushes, a place for metal nails and screws, the list goes on and on.
And then when you’ve done all of these things, then of course, recycle as much as you can, as well as you can.
Please know that ONE PERSON, TAKING ONE OF THE STEPS IN THE 5R’s, like using a stainless steel water bottle or taking reusable grocery bags to the store, can make a big difference.