Skip single-use plastics

Almost 20 billion plastic bottles are added to the waste stream each year. Photo by Monica Volpin and made available by Pixabay.

Avoid single-use items like plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids, cutlery, bags, plastic wrap, products with microbeads and microplastics and “free” gifts you don’t need. According to an estimate by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then thrown away. And of course there is no “away” because plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It sticks around for a long time often fouling land and water. Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. So keep track of how many plastic items you use in a day and try to wean yourself off them. Bring your own bags when shopping, use a travel mug or bottle for coffee and water, bring silverware to the office, and avoid products with microbeads (they flow through waste treatment plants and into waterways where fish confuse them for food). Hold manufacturers accountable for the packaging of their products. If you think a company could be smarter about the way they package things, let them know. Recycle whatever plastic you can. Check out the number on the bottom of plastic containers to determine disposal options. To learn what’s recyclable in your area check out’s recycling directory