Eight Easy Ways to Help the Environment

Looking for simple everyday steps that we can take to help protect the environment? Here are eight easy ways (related to plastics) to help us reduce waste … and maybe feel a bit better about our place on the planet.

1. Know What to Throw

It’s important to know what—and what not—to throw in our recycling bins. We can easily learn what’s recyclable and what’s not through community web sites and our local recycling companies. Or we can go to Keep America Beautiful’s IWantToBeRecycled.org to find out what we can recycle locally.

African grandmother teaching granddaughter how to recycle

2. Recycle More in Our Homes

Most of us are pretty good about remembering to recycle plastics in our kitchens, but we sometimes forget to recycle in other rooms. Recyclable plastics can be found throughout our homes. Some examples include bottles in the bathroom (shampoo), jugs in the garage (windshield wiper fluid), and containers in the laundry room (detergent).

Mother with young boy (4-5) sitting on washing machine in laundry room

3. Recycle More Outside Our Homes

We should look for recycling bins at sports stadiums, parks, and beaches. If we can’t find one, it’s easy to hang on to our soft drink bottles, yogurt cups, and other containers and carry them back home in the bag that brought them.

A mother and daughter recycling plastic bottles

4. Select Lighter Packaging

We now can choose to buy lots of everyday things sealed in super thin, lightweight plastic packaging to lighten up on the environment. Less material can mean less packaging waste, and lighter weight can result in less fuel use and fewer emissions to transport food and other products.

Young blonde woman grocery shopping

5. Protect Our Leftovers

Food waste is a big problem with huge environmental consequences. We can help reduce food waste by promptly refrigerating our leftovers in airtight storage containers or zipper bags that help seal out air and moisture, so we can enjoy that food longer and waste less.

Sandwich in plastic bag

6. Buy Recycled

It’s easier than ever to find high-quality products made with recycled plastics, from kitchen tools to clothing to carpeting. Burying used plastics in a landfill is a waste of valuable materials—fortunately, today more and more plastics are living another life as resilient fleece jackets, fun playground equipment, or gorgeous backyard decks.

Man and woman hikers hiking on mountain trail autumn or winter nature. Young couple backpackers walking in forest landscape. Happy trekkers on travel trip with backpacks, camping outdoors.

7. Seal Our Homes

We can help the environment and reduce our energy bills by taking simple steps to stop leaks in our homes that let in outdoor air, typically around doors and windows. From weather stripping to caulking to insulating spray foam in a can, many plastic building products can help seal out that unwanted air.

Worker applies silicone caulk on the wooden floor for sealant waterproof

8. Focus on Fuel-Efficiency

When we drive today’s modern cars, we already are participating in a far-reaching, ongoing effort to reduce fuel use and emissions: lightweighting. Automakers have been increasingly turning to lightweight, tough plastics to reduce the weight of our cars and trucks, which can dramatically improve our miles per gallon—good news for the environment and our wallets. (Many automakers even use recycled plastics.) Of course, we also can take our own steps, such as maintaining proper tire pressure, to further reduce fuel use and emissions.

Man and woman driving

To learn more about one easy way to lighten our environmental footprint, check out how to recycle more plastics.