Single-Use Plastic

According to researchers at PA Sea Grant, the highest concentration of plastic is found between Erie, PA and Dunkirk, N.Y., with more than 600,000 plastic pieces per square kilometer. This plastic waste breaks down and leaks toxins, harming marine life and polluting the groundwater that becomes our drinking water. Many of these pieces are wasteful single-use plastic.

What is Single-Use Plastic?

Single-use plastic is any plastic that can only be used once before being disposed of or recycled. Common examples surround us in our day-to-day lives, including: grocery bags, water bottles, and plastic food wrappers. Recycling plastic rather than throwing it away is a great first step, but even recycling the plastic is more costly than recycling other materials. Single-use plastic comes in a wide range of types which must be handled differently. In order to be recycled they first have to be separated. Also, not all plastics can be recycled. Therefore, the ideal solution is to reduce the single-use plastic that you consume entirely.

What Can I Do to Reduce Single-Use Plastic?

  • Bottled water seems very convenient. However, over time the plastic of the bottle will start leaking chemicals into the water. Have you ever taken a drink out of a bottle of water that may have been a week or so old? It has a funny taste to it. The easy solution is to carry around reusable aluminum water bottles.
  • Moms or Dads that pack their kid's lunch every day: do you put their sandwich in a plastic bag and pack them a juice box? That plastic gets thrown straight into the trash. Try using a reusable sandwich containers and a thermos instead.
  • Online shoppers are very familiar with excess packaging. When ordering online request the sender use minimal to no plastic packaging.
  • When preparing for back to school time, pens and pencils are at the top of the list. New writing utensils are normally packaged in plastic that is ripped off and immediately thrown away. Even the pen or pencil itself is a plastic casing. Avoid all the waste by buying refillable ink pens and mechanical pencils. The lead and the filler ink will be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
  • One of the most common forms of single-use plastic is the bags found in grocery stores. Buying reusable shopping bags has become easier and more convenient than ever before. Most stores place them right near the check-out line as an alternative to paper or plastic. Using these reusable bags not only reduces the amount of single-use plastic use but also reassures you that the bag is not going to break.