Ditch Plastic Disposables and Aim for Zero Waste 

Backstory and Science
Since cheap plastics became abundant after the Second World War, we’ve developed a “single-use” disposable culture. From coffee cups to plastic cutlery, we’ve forgotten a world in which our tools and utensils were saved and cared for. The costs of our convenience are evident in overflowing landfills, plastic-choked waters, and stricken wildlife. We now know that only 9% of the plastic ever produced has been recycled and that this proportion will diminish as plastic production booms.

As the public wakes up to the plastics crisis, some companies have been working to develop and promote alternative “compostable” single-use disposables. Compostables are likely preferable to plastics made from fossil fuels, which can take 1000 years to decompose. But there are many problems with single-use compostables, including insufficient industrial composting facilities, incorrect waste stream allocation, toxic chemicals in production and compost output, and resource-intensive production and transportation.

Most of all, compostables perpetuate and disguise an underlying sickness: Our waste problem is not just a plastics problem; it’s also a single-use problem. It’s time to ditch our disposable culture and re-create a way of life in which we rely on sturdy, long-lasting items designed to be lovingly used, re-used, and perhaps even passed on to the next generation.

Learn more about plastic pollution.

Take the Challenge!

This month, we challenge everyone to adopt at least two new “reusables” habits:

  • Refuse to use throwaway food ware.
  • Take your own reusable water bottle or cup and utensils to food outlets that only provide disposables.
  • Bring your own containers to restaurants for leftovers.
  • Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
  • Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
  • Shop sustainably by bringing your own containers to bulk bin stores.
  • Bring your own reusable produce bags.
  • Try something new and use unpackaged alternatives, like shampoo bars.
  • Start conversations with your family, friends, and neighbors to share ideas about what you’re each doing to shift to reusables.

Read some additional creative ideas.

Ready to take action? Share how you’re participating in the challenge in our Embrace the Earth Facebook Group!

#CutOutCutlery Globally! Encourage restaurants to allow customers to only receive plastic cutlery by request. UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub have already complied with this campaign!

Californians: Sign Heal the Bay’s petition in support of SB-54, the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

US residents: Send an email to your Congress Members to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 to hold corporations and plastic producers accountable for the single-use plastic crisis.

Learn more about SB-54, the Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act.

Additional Resources About Plastic Pollution

A very short, informative movie about plastic pollution

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act introduced in US Senate

$180bn investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge

Compostable plastic? Not so much

Information provided on this page is from IKAR, a spiritual community in Los Angeles.

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