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