What a Reuse Future Looks Like

What a reuse future includes. Reusable cloth bowl cover covering up of strawberries. Another reusable bag is in the background with an apple inside.
Many single-use products can be replaced with reusable ones made of safe, durable materials. Photo Credit: Carol DeRose

Drowning in a Single-Use World

How many times have you ordered take-out and later found yourself throwing away single use plasticware you didn’t even ask for? We live in a single-use world centered on convenience and controlled by the big companies that profit off this throwaway junk. Most single-use items aren’t even recyclable or compostable.

The bad news? There’s no such as thing as “away.” Every single-use item, from coffee cups to take-out boxes, ends up buried in a landfill or burned in an incinerator. Either that, or we see single-use items as litter in our environment and communities.

Some companies boast that their single-use items are made of bioplastics or compostable materials. But those aren’t solutions, either. These items perpetuate our throw-away culture, demand more resources from the environment, and are often made with toxic chemicals that harm human health.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way! Many single-use products can be replaced with reusable ones made of safe, durable materials.

Infographic highlighting 6 ways to create a reuse future

Reusables are a Solution to the Waste Crisis

Reusables made of non-toxic materials like stainless steel, glass, and ceramics are the best replacements for single-use items – and they’re healthier for people to use. Not only do they help keep trash out of polluting landfills and incinerators, but they also reduce our need for virgin materials to make new single use items. This is a huge win for the environment and human health!

Reuse systems need to be implemented on a large scale to create real impact. Across the country, reuse policies are being passed at both the local and state level, such as mandated reusables for indoor dining and single use water bottle bans that lead to city-wide water refill stations. There are reuse businesses springing up in many states that allow for people to opt into reusables at restaurants and stores. However, there is a huge need for more policies that make it easy and accessible for everyone to participate in reuse.

Be Part of Creating a Reuse Future

You can help create a reuse future. Join a reuse coalition or another local Zero Waste group to help pass reuse policies on a local or state level. If there isn’t such a group in your area, gather like-minded folks to start one! You can also search local businesses in your area that have reuse initiatives and promote them to your networks. The more advocacy around creating reuse systems, the closer to a reuse future we will be.

Join the Movement

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