The Clean Water Blog

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How to reduce plastic at your BBQs and picnics this summer

The weather is getting warmer, which means it is time for picnics, parties, and BBQs. That also means we are likely to see more waste from single-use disposable products like paper plastics, plastic utensils, party cups, and more. Most of those items cannot be recycled, especially if they are soiled with food waste. This contributes to a very large waste stream – more than 40% of plastic is used just once before it becomes trash.

We need to rethink our current use of single-use products, especially because plastic does not decompose – they eventually break down into micro-plastics and can remain in landfills for hundreds of years. We are lucky if it stays in the landfill. A lot of single-use products end up in our rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean.

You might be asking “what can I do about it?” It turns out, a lot.

Eliminating single-use plastic consumption requires us to change what we do, but it is not that hard. It just takes a little planning and thoughtfulness.

Here are a few simple solutions that we can do to protect our environment, water, and health every day:

  • Consider using durable plates, cups, utensils, and more at your next BBQ or party.
  • Invest in a reusable coffee cup or water bottle (or both!) Many businesses provide a small discount if you bring your own cup.
  • Get a few reusable tote bags for your trips to the market.
  • If you do use plastic cups and plates at your parties and BBQs, avoid littering.
  • Stay updated on regular recycling routines: In February, some recycling centers in Minnesota no longer accept black plastic and #6 Polystyrene (Styrofoam).
  • Consider having fewer balloons (we know): It is estimated that degrading duration of a balloon takes six months to four years.
  • Skip the disposable straws: The average disposable straw is made from the non-renewable source petroleum.

Whether we are a hosting or attending an event, we can continue to celebrate with a “less plastic is best” approach.