Living Lightly on planet earth is a broad theme which encompasses personal lifestyle, consumption of goods, and use of money – all enveloped in an interior spirituality of simplicity, humility, justice, and care for humanity – indeed care for all creation.

Lately I have focused especially on care for creation. By now most folk are well familiar with the 3 R’s of the environmental mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In an effort to make this a manageable task, I narrowed it down to the subtopic of plastic pollution which adds two more R’s – Rethink and Refuse. But this too became such a huge field of study, that I limited it even further to reducing Single Use Plastics (SUPs) as a sub-focus.

To reduce SUPs we can start at the top or at the bottom:
The Top: Supply – Reduce the supply of plastic at the source – the mining of petrochemicals through fracking and turning this into plastic at “cracker” plants. Often this means getting involved in the political process of influencing government policies.
The Bottom: Demand – Reducing the demand to buy single use plastic products would reduce the incentive to create more supply.

Here I will start at the bottom because buying stuff, especially groceries, impacts most people’s daily life. Following is a collection of ideas and resources which I hope will help an ordinary person/shopper to make a positive difference. One person, multiplied by many people trying their best, can make a world of difference.

RETHINK: Before buying anything – Think! Is there another way? Two examples from my life:
1. Instead of buying the #5 plastic containers of yogurt, I started making my own yogurt.
2. Instead of buying alfalfa sprouts in a plastic clamshell, I started growing them in a glass jar.

1. Skip the Stuff
2. 20 Ways to Refuse Single Use Products by Kathy Downey: REFUSE – Downey (Includes a sample restaurant note.)

1. Single Use Plastics 101 by National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
2. Plastic-Free Living Product Guide by A-Z Plastics Coalition
3. ECO-Friendly Household Products by Susan Vogt

Grocery bags, food & drink containers, glass jars, old clothes as rags, repair stuff, cloth napkins, books, cloth diapers, print on both sides of paper… This is an evolving list. Add your favorites.

1. Chasing Arrows chart – What do all those numbers and letters in a triangle mean?
2. What do Plastic Recycling Symbols Really Mean? more in depth article
3, How to Recycle like a Responsible Human by Phoebe Lapine (helpful recycling summary)
4. Cincinnati area: Rumpke curbside flyer & Cincinnati Recycling and Reuse Hub

EXTRA: VIDEOS for those who learn best by watching
1. 16 short videos on Plastic collected by Cj Willie of Earth Connection.
2. Also, The Story of Plastic (1 hr. 35 min. film). Click here for trailer.
3. Recording of my June 29, hour long Webinar on Reducing Single Use Plastics

UPDATE Check out a summary of 64 Ways to Reduce Plastic – adapted by SV