Rethinking our relationship with plastic

Illustration of a recycling truck dumping plastic

The average US citizen generates roughly 300 pounds of plastic waste per year. Even when we toss our plastic containers in the recycling bin, only a fraction get recycled. Because our recycling system cannot keep pace with our growing waste output—and because of high levels of contamination—much of the plastic collected still winds up in our oceans, piles up in landfills, or is incinerated.

Yet with a few simple changes, you can make a difference.

Check your local recycling rules so you know what kinds of plastic can be recycled in your jurisdiction. Minimize your own plastic footprint in your day-to-day life by shifting your mindset from single use to reuse—for example, switch from drink-it-and-toss plastic bottles of water to a reusable water bottle. Look for sustainable plastic-free options—like buying products in bulk or from the local farmers market, opting for soap bars over bottled soaps, and storing food in beeswax food wraps instead of plastic wrap.

Equally important is your voice. You can support Extended Producer Responsibility in the US—a proven policy solution designed to transform our country’s recycling systems by shifting the financial burden of recycling from taxpayers to plastic manufacturers.

Add your voice to this cause.


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World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

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