Reuse & Recycling Tips From Sustainable Sasha
- April 21, 2020
EARTH DAY WITH SUSTAINABLE SASHA
Sustainable Sasha here! One of the biggest threats to Galveston Bay is pollution, including everyday sources of litter and trash. The Bay starts in all our backyards. Its watershed extends all the way from Dallas to Galveston. Litter and car oil leaks in our neighborhoods get washed into storm drains when it rains or pieces of trash get carried by the wind into streams and rivers, and all this ends up in the Bay. Trash and pollution in Galveston Bay and connected waterways are dangerous to animals that live, nest, or eat there. Dolphins, turtles, and birds can easily get tangled in fishing line or plastic bags and accidentally eat plastic, which can damage their stomachs. Fish can eat tiny plastics too, which is bad for them and can also end up being part of our dinner if we like to fish. In this blog, I’ll walk you through tips on reusing products and recycling.
An easy way to start being more sustainable is to try to replace things you only use once with reusable versions! Reusable versions of common single-use items end up saving you money and shopping time too. Some things I’ve had trouble with is forgetting my reusable grocery bags at home. Then I realized I can just bring my groceries straight to my car in the shopping cart and use my bags or a box to bring them in the house once I get home. Something else I’ve been working on, when ordering take-out over the phone or on an app, is requesting they do not include plasticware. It saves your favorite restaurant money too!
When it comes to reusable and sustainable items, look for glass, stainless steel, tin, silicone (mainly made of sand), bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, or wool.
For new products, I love to shop locally and support small businesses, but I know everyone’s needs, budgets, and accessibility vary. If you do shop on Amazon for more sustainable products, you can still make a difference by choosing Galveston Bay Foundation as your Amazon Smile non-profit of choice and they will donate a percentage to us!
Some of my favorite small businesses and items:
- Chagrin Valley Soap And Salve for deodorant, lotions, face washes, insect repellent, and more
- A Drop in The Ocean for household goods, bath and beauty products, and pet care
- BZ Honey for locally made beeswax wraps
- Naples Soap Company for my favorite shampoo and conditioner bars
- Etsy sustainable make-up shops
- Etsy sustainable sunblock shops
No one is perfect, and there are things even I need or use that aren’t “zero waste”. What about the things you can’t reuse, or haven’t found easy alternatives for yet? That’s where recycling comes in. Recycling helps prevent the need for brand new things to be made, which reduces the use of fossil fuels, production of carbon emissions and nurdles (the raw plastic pellets found all along our shorelines).
Knowing what and how to recycle can be confusing, and if not done properly, recycling can become too expensive or difficult for cities to keep doing it. Check out your local recycling center website to learn what you can and can’t recycle. I’ll share some specific tips below for things that confused me at first. Remember, always clean out your containers before recycling them!
Are these common items recyclable? Answers and tips on how to recycle them.
- Plastic bags and plastic packaging can jam up recycling center machines – processed separately take them to recycle at grocery stores near you, like HEB, Kroger, or Target or Houston.
- Plastic caps/lids and their bottles – best to wash out matching container, squish it down if you can and reattach the bottle cap.
- Magazines and phone books – YES! Including curbside!
- Beverage containers – Yep! Now curbside & recycling centers (lids reattached after squishing down).
- Envelopes – YES! The windows are actually made from cellulose (wood) so they can be put in with paper as is!
- K-cups for coffee – “recyclable” is #5 and “non-recyclable” is #7 so Houston area curbside and Galveston accepts these!
- Foil – Remove foil tops of K-cups, glass bottles, and yogurt containers – use an aluminum can to collect loose foil. Pinch the top of the can when full and recycle it!
- Take out boxes that are greasy, like pizza boxes go in the trash but clean cardboard can be recycled.
- Styrofoam (#6 plastic) – Accepted at Galveston Eco Center, but not curbside programs so drop off at West Park Recycling or other centers in Houston (not accepted at Stella Roberts or League City centers).
- Lightbulbs are made of a variety of materials – Best to collect and bring to Batteries Plus Bulbs store to recycle. A good place to bring your batteries too!
- Electronics – Accepted at most recycling but not curbside.
Not recyclable: Shredded paper, chip bags, candy wrappers, and mirrors, very shiny freezer packaging, and disposable coffee cups – coated in thin plastic which can jam up recycling machines (check for recycling symbol, occasionally they are.
FREE solution for hard-to-recycle items!
Visit TerraCycle online to mail in or find drop off locations for FREE for items you can’t recycle locally like toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, Febreze spray bottles, dishwashing and laundry detergent pouches, pens and markers, snack bags from sweets and chips, Burt’s Bees beauty products, contact lenses and their packaging, plastic toys, baby food pouches, and even cigarette butts!
And on a final note, one great action to take if you see signs of pollution is to report it on the Galveston Bay Action Network (GBAN) app! Visit Galveston Bay Report Card’s interactive tool to find more “What You Can Do’s” to help the Bay. The Report Card Website is also available in Spanish.