Our mission at Transition Town Media is to co-create a thriving, resilient world, one community at a time. We think the best way to do that is by drawing on the collective genius of our community. This blog will be a list of some of the best ways you can help make our future healthier, happier, more prosperous, and more connected.
We’ll be adding onto this list over time, and we want YOU to contribute to it! We’re not the only ones with the answers – we want to know what you’ve done to help the planet and help your community thrive. What have you tried, what’s worked well for you, what hasn’t. Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add it to our list.
This list will be roughly organized by category. Within each category, we’ll have 3 levels of tips: Easy-peasy, Taking Off the Training Wheels, and Eco-warrior. You can find your level in each category and then push yourself to take on something from the next. You’ll be an Eco-Warrior in no time!
We’ve all heard how plastic waste is choking the life out of our oceans and waterways and adding to our landfills. Incinerating plastic waste also causes toxic pollution and endangers our health. There are lots of easy ways to go easy on the plastic – here are a few.
The key things to keep in mind are: replace (find reusable alternatives), reuse (never use a piece of plastic just once), and recycle (the last resort but better than the trash).
- Use reusable grocery bags! Plastic bag use is one of the worst contributors to ocean pollution – and don’t you hate seeing them caught in the trees? Keep forgetting to bring them with you to the store? Yes, it takes a little extra effort to learn a new habit but the effort is worth it! Put your reusable bags in the car so you always have them handy. Or put them on a coat rack or other visible hook by your door so you can’t leave the house without noticing them. Add them to the top of your grocery list. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself – before long, it will be second nature to always have them with you.
- Bring your own water bottle or coffee mug! Plastic water bottles are another huge pollutant in our waterways. Water and coffee/tea thermoses are inexpensive and attractive, keep water cold and hot drinks hot longer. They’re a great way to keep from using plastic bottles or styrofoam cups and lids.
- Reuse or recycle what you have. If you already have plastic bags or cups, reuse them as often as you can. When they’re falling apart, recycle them. Most grocery stores recycle plastic bags and #1 & #2 plastics are the easiest to recycle.
Taking Off the Training Wheels
- Use reusable produce and storage bags! Don’t stop at just the large tote bags. Use nylon or beeswax produce bags for your loose produce instead of the plastic sleeves stores make available in the produce section. Just google “reusable produce bags” to find them. “Beeswax storage bags” will find lots of sources of bags or wraps that you can use instead of Saran Wrap to store fresh food or bowls of leftovers in the refrigerator or in your lunch box. They work great!
- Bring your own straw! Plastic straws are another huge source of pollution. Some restaurants and coffee shops are offering paper alternatives but they can get soggy. Better alternatives are bamboo, stainless steel, or silicone – or not using one at all! If you have your own reusable cup or mug, this resolves your concerns about bacteria from using a restaurant glass.
- Bring your own leftover containers! Styrofoam or plastic food containers for leftovers or take-out containers are hard to recycle so they usually end up in the trash. If you’re going to a restaurant and think you might want a doggie bag, bring your own! Even a plastic Tupperware container that you wash and reuse is better than single-use plastic containers.
- BYOE – Bring Your Own Everything! This was a theme for a series of TTM potlucks last year. Inspired by Portland OR, where they typically carry around “go bags”, we invited people to bring their own reusable plates, cups, utensils, and napkins to our potlucks. It saves on waste and cuts down on our costs of supplying compostable or reusable dinnerware. Start a movement here on the East coast of using “go bags” whenever you go to a potluck or other event serving food!
- Keep looking for more alternatives! Whenever you use a piece of plastic, think about what you could be using instead. Do some Internet searches for containers that suit your needs. Buy loose fresh produce instead of the kind that comes packaged in plastic wrap and styrofoam. Buy in bulk whenever possible to avoid plastic-wrapped nuts, beans, and grains. Go on a mission to be plastic-free!
- Be a Reuse Ambassador! Whenever you use reusable alternatives, whether it’s in grocery stores or restaurants, you’re setting a good example for others and showing them that it’s not so hard to start using them too. Talk to your friends and neighbors about how great it feels to be helping the planet with these simple habits. Ask your stores and restaurants to encourage their use too. Have extra bags? Donate one to a friend or to someone in the grocery store line who forgot theirs. You’re on the front lines of the Plastic-Free Revolution!