13 Tips for Ditching Single-Use Disposable Items

We generate an insane amount of waste in modern society. There are all kinds of disheartening facts and statistics out there – like how the average American throws away nearly 7 pounds of trash per day. Or how we don’t recycle 91% of the plastic that we use. Or how 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans each year, where it pollutes the environment and contaminates the food chain.

If you’re already eco-conscious you may be thinking, “I’ve heard all this and I get that this is important, but this doesn’t apply to me. I do my part and recycle everything I can!”

Not so fast. The sad truth is that throwing something in the recycling is not a guarantee that it will be recycled. That single-use plastic bottle you just tossed in a blue bin could very well be on its way to a landfill.

Yes, you read that right. You may think you’re being a good steward of the environment by recycling your disposable plastic. But the reality is that all that plastic you’re throwing in the recycling may not actually end up being recycled.

Why is this so? Well, for decades we’ve been sending a big chunk of our plastic recyclables to China, because it was a whole lot more economical to do so. But in January 2018 China stopped accepting “foreign trash” for processing, which left many North American and European recycling companies scrambling for other options.

And since we have very little capacity to process plastic recycling ourselves, more often than not the only choice is sending it to a landfill – where it can take up to 500 years to decompose, and in the process leaks toxic chemicals and microplastics into the soil and groundwater.

Before you get mad at China, let’s not forget that this is a problem of our own making. Now we’re just being forced to deal with it instead of pawning it off on someone else and pretending that it’s not an issue.

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