Happy Hump Day from Bay Disposal & Recycling! Each week we count down to Friday with eco friendly tips, info, and resources to help Hampton Roads live a green lifestyle. We’re focusing on environmental alternatives to commonly-used packaging materials, specifically plastic, foil, and Styrofoam.

Let’s Reuse.

Plastic: We talk about plastic a lot here at Bay Disposal—both how to recycle it and how to start phasing it out of your life. Check out our list of everyday plastic items and their “alter-ecos:”

  • Shopping bags: Pick up a reusable fabric one (most stores sell them at the entrance) and keep it in your car so you can use it when you’re out.
  • To go cups: Invest in a nice reusable one with insulation (cold drinks stay cold, hot drinks stay hot). It’s 2018, and asking the barista to fill your travel mug isn’t that unusual—in fact, it’s trendy.
  • Takeout boxes: If you ask for a box and receive a plastic one, check for the triangle/arrow symbol on the bottom. If it’s a 1, 2, or 5 then you can rinse and recycle it when you’ve eaten your leftovers. Otherwise, bring a box with you.
  • Bottled drinks: Unfortunately, most bottled beverages are still plastic. If you’re in a convenience store, opt for a beverage with a glass bottle or metal can, or use your reusable cup to get a fountain drink instead. If you absolutely must, be sure to rinse and recycle the bottle when you’re done.
  • Straws: Just don’t use one, or take a look at our blog about plastic straw alternatives for the disabled (or those who just really enjoy straws).
  • Disposable razors: Try a different hair removal method, such as waxing or lasering. Check out our blog on razor disposal for more info and ideas.
  • Dishes: If you’ve got a choice, always go glass. Plastic may seem more durable but they are often not microwave or dishwasher safe—and even if they are, over time they’ll warp.
  • Utensils: Plastic utensils are recyclable but rarely recycled. Grab a fork, spoon, and knife from your drawer at home, wrap them in a bandanna, and keep them in your car or at your desk, wherever you most often use plastic tableware.

Foil & Wrap: Foil is both reusable and recyclable, yet often is used once then thrown away. Take a look at our alternative suggestions for food storage:

  • Glass jars, containers: Reusable and microwave safe, they just make sense!
  • Fabric wraps: Gaining popularity, these eco friendly food storage wraps are made to be used over and over.
  • Plates: Couldn’t finish dinner? Set a second plate on top of the first, and place the whole ensemble in the fridge.

Ask yourself the following questions when it comes to food storage:

1. Did I need to make so much food?
2. Did I overserve myself?
3. How long will it be in there?
4. Does it really need to be covered?

In other words, you don’t always have to spend money or invest in new appliances to save the planet. Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing that you’re going to finish your leftovers in two hours anyways, so it’s okay to leave it uncovered in the fridge.

Styrofoam: We’ve discussed this toxic material before. Harmful from production to consumption to disposal, there is no redeeming quality of Styrofoam. Yet big names such as Bojangles and Chic-Fil-A use it for their cups, and nearly every restaurant in America uses it for their boxes. Consumers are not responsible for the continued use of Styrofoam; corporations are.

But you can still do your part:

  • Bring a reusable container when you go out (keep it in your car)
  • Order less food
  • Share with your companions
  • Cook at home! You’ll know everything was made just the way you like it 🙂

By seeking out long-lasting, eco friendly alternative materials, you’ll not only save some money, you’ll save the world.