More Options Means More Pathways to Circularity

Rethinking, reusing and recycling plastics in your daily life.

How many ways are there to solve the answer to a math problem? Usually more than one, right? In the same way, lots of innovative products and business models are helping us find answers to solve the problem of plastic waste. By rethinking things a bit, we can reuse and recycle plastic items, and move toward a more circular economy for plastic.

It’s up to each of us to educate ourselves and choose products that best fit our daily lifestyles, then responsibly use, reuse and recycle those products. Check out some of the companies and reusable plastic products that are making a difference:

  • Care for a refill? Companies like Blueland start you off with a durable, reusable spray bottle, then ship you refill pods of cleaner to mix with water in the same bottle. Other companies sell large bottles of cleaner to refill smaller spray bottles and use them again and again.
  • A new chapter for reusables: Using the “library subscription” model, GO Box is connecting conscious consumers, food vendors and grocery stores in Portland around a shared asset — reusable plastic containers and cups. You purchase a monthly or annual subscription, which allows you to “check out” a specific number of containers at a time from participating companies. The container could be used to pile a salad in at the grocery store or to delicately hold a taco from your favorite local food truck. After use, you must return the container to a designated drop-off site in order to be able to take another.
  • Rehydrate yourself. Reusable water bottles, such as those made by Nalgene, help you stay hydrated while also reducing plastic waste. In fact, Nalgene estimates that using a reusable bottle for your daily water intake keeps 1,460 single-use bottles out of landfills each year.
  • Greener grocer. Both reusable plastic grocery bags and plastic carryout bags from the store serve the same purpose, but they need to be reused or recycled in different ways. Reusable bags should be washed and fully dried between uses to keep them clean. (Here are some quick tips on how to wash reusable grocery bags.) Plastic carryout bags can be recycled at participating stores and other locations nationwide — just not in most home curbside recycling bins.

No matter what product or packaging you choose — reusable, multi-use or single-use — consider its sustainability and overall lifecycle impacts. How can you reuse or recycle something to extend its purpose? For example, think about reusing a plastic grocery bag to clean up after pets, as a trash-can liner, as packing material, to put inside a shoe to help maintain its shape, or as a plant protector in bad weather.

If you can’t reuse it, recycle it! It’s easier than you may think. Find recycling drop-off locations for bags and other plastic film packaging here. There are many ways to get to the same answer — try some of these ideas to reduce your plastic waste at home.

Continue to visit America’s Plastic Makers: Making Sustainable ChangeSM to learn more about how innovative products and business models can play a role in achieving a more circular economy for plastics — and help end plastic waste.