Reusing Disposable Things

Reusable Spork

According to a New York Times article, about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, and only about 10 percent of it is recycled. The rest of it is simply thrown away, and an estimated seven million tons ends up floating around in the ocean — every year.

One simple change in mindset can reduce that by quite a bit.

You know that clean, shiny plastic spork you might use to eat lunch? What would happen if you washed it off and saved it for another reuse? Just once. Or that plastic cup (or paper, for that matter) that we drink out of once and then toss … rinse it out and use it just one more time?

Imagine if everyone did that. Use a perfectly good disposable item twice, instead of just once.

Just once.

Imagine how much of a dent that would take out of those tons of plastic going into the environment. In a perfect world that would cut the plastic use in half, but of course that’s not the case, as there are many plastic items — such as in packaging — that can only be used once. But still, a significant portion of plastic use is … well, knives and forks. Plastic cups. A plate. Things that are perfectly reusable.

What if you reused them just once? Or maybe more than once?

Now, I know the next step is to wonder about substituting actual reusable items instead of disposable ones, but let’s not get carried away. We’ve got a 300 million ton plastic ship going full throttle here — there’s no way you’re going to stop it on a dime. But big changes can come from small, tiny changes. Easy changes.

Like rinsing out that cup and using it again before you throw it away. Or — be daring! — use it three times. Four!

It’s easy, and I urge you to start doing it today, and please urge your friends and colleges to do it too. Just make that simple, easy change.

Just reuse it once. Maybe twice. Something so small, it’s not that big a deal, but cumulatively it could be a huge big deal.

Sources: Raising Awareness of Plastic Waste (NY Times); U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

One Reply to “Reusing Disposable Things”

  1. I like using 32-ounce plastic drink cups from fast food chains as water glasses — rinse ’em out, fill one twice with water, and I know I’ve made my water quota for the day. I also like using those big plastic takeout cups you can get from certain restaurants for dry goods storage — they keep any stray insects out and they stack nicely in the cabinet.

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