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The Problem With Plastic Waste

Plastics are made from fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.  About 4% to 8% of the world's oil production is for plastics, and most plastics are thrown away after a single use. By reducing our plastic use, we can also reduce our carbon footprint. 

Plastics don’t actually breakdown, they break apart. This process can take hundreds of years to break down into toxic microplastics that enter our soil and water.  Microplastics can be dangerous to wildlife and humans as they accumulate in the body.  

Plastics enter our waterways, killing more than one million marine animals per year.  By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.  

          Reuse and Reduce

Reuse water bottles, coffee cups, shopping bags, sandwich bags, beeswax food wrap, traveling utensils (forks, spoons, straws). 

Compost food scraps and certain types of paper 

Buy in bulk and use refillable bottles (shampoo, soap, laundry detergent) 

Shop from sustainable companies 

Use DIY cleaning products

Shop from local farmers markets 

Buy only what you need


Not all plastic is recyclable. Plastic packaging with the #1, 2, and 5 recycling symbols can go in your recycle bin if they are clean ("spatula clean" is good enough), are larger than 3" across (put caps back on plastic bottles before recycling), and are not thin films (like grocery and garbage bags). 

If you live in Naperville, learn what types of plastic and other materials can be recycled by visiting our local waste management company website.  They even have an app for your phone to help you figure out what goes in which bin.

For plastic bags and other thin plastic films, including bubble wrap, most grocery stores have drop off locations near the entrance. However, an ABC investigation found that most of this material ends up in landfills or being incinerated. Instead of worrying about recycling, try to minimize the number of plastic bags you use, and when you do get a plastic bag, reuse it by lining a waste bin or picking up after your pet.

It is challenging to avoid plastic, but do so when you can. When it comes to beverages, choose aluminum cans or glass bottles which are recycled at a much higher rate than plastic. Recycle the types of plastics that are most likely to be turned into a new product - laundry and milk jugs, and plastic water and soda bottles.

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