Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 121: Single-Use Disposables

Seattle has taken a huge step towards zero-waste by banning wasteful single-use packaging from landfills. I'd love to see this sort of thing adopted in more places.

Here are some ideas for reducing your trash when you go out, if you live in the rest of the country where there are no rules and everything seems to go into the trash:
  • Bring home your compostables to your own compost bin.

  • Bring home your recyclables (#1 and #2 plastic bottles, #5 plastic yogurt tubs, cardboard, paperboard, glass bottles) and recycle them yourself.

  • Keep a cloth napkin or bandanna in your car or purse to use instead of a napkin. (I cannot tell you how handy this has been over these many months!)

  • When faced with two options and one has less packaging or trash than the other, choose the low-packaging alternative.

  • Communicate with the person serving you - ask for the item on a plate or in a cup rather than in disposables. Sometimes they will tell you they can't give it to you like that, and you might learn something about local rules or restaurant standards. You can put this information to use later. (Example: Starbucks in NYC refused to give us a muffin "to go" that was NOT in a paper bag. The bag was required. In order to get the item without a bag, we had to say "for here" and then leave the plate! Which then had to be washed... frustrating.)

  • Bring your own bags to the grocery. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring your own utensils (I am very forgetful of this one). Yes, we all forget. But the 5 times you remember will make you feel a lot better about "splurging" on a disposable mug the one time you forget.

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