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  • Susan Wineland

Using Less Plastic

Many of us are looking for ways to reduce our use of plastics that too often end up in landfills, lakes, rivers, and oceans. According to the Ocean Conservancy, every year over 12 million tons of plastic enter our oceans and 1200 tons are currently circulating through the marine environment.

In a recent recycling column, some alternatives to using less plastic were: bees wrap, glass food storage containers with lids, mesh produce bags, single-use water bottles made out of glass or stainless steel, laundry sheets or powdered detergent in cardboard boxes, reusable grocery bags, metal straws, cutlery, and bars of soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

Here are a few more non-plastic, eco-friendly solutions for everyday uses:

  • Compostable garbage bags are made from a non-toxic, plant-based material that degrades.

  • Coconut scour pads are made from natural coconut coir and natural rubber which won’t shed off any microplastics that are toxic to us and our environment. They are biodegradable and home compostable. The same can be said for bamboo products like dishes, hair brushes, toothbrushes, soap dishes, cooking sets.

  • Sisal is a natural, plant-based fiber and a great alternative to traditional plastic loofahs and shower sponges. Sisal products are also used to make soap-saver bags which are great for exfoliation and also allow your soap to dry between uses extending its life.

  • Buy reusable storage bags made from silicone that can go from the fridge to the freezer, into a boiling pot of water, through the dishwasher, and ready to be reused again. In other words, they’re extremely durable and versatile, without sacrificing form for function. These bags come in a variety of sizes and colors and slim and space-saving yet long-lasting. They are simple to clean in the dishwasher by standing them upside down in either the top or bottom rack of my dishwasher, depending on their size, and our tester has yet to encounter any oily residue or unpleasant odor.

In addition to choosing eco-friendly products, we can reuse what we have.

One example is plastic storage bags. According to a leading manufacturer, SC Johnsons, plastic storage bags can be hand washed, rinsed, and reused – but not if they were used to store raw meat, fish, or eggs. They recommend washing the bags with soap and water and letting them air dry. Don’t turn them inside out though or the seams might rip. Just add some warm water, a little soap and slosh around. Rinse well, wipe with a clean dish towel, prop open and hang to dry.

How can we do our part to contribute less to the plastic pollution filling our oceans and land and endangering wildlife and ourselves? We can look for ways to reduce our use. There are lots of great alternatives out there. Try them!

To find out if specific items are recyclable, go to, type in the item and you’ll know immediately. Otherwise, when in doubt, throw it out. For more info about recycling in Orange, visit

Article originally published in the Milford-Orange Times.


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