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Photo Credit: Borderland Music and Art Festival | Get this limited edition water bottle here.

Liz Cute is our Community Engagement Manager and runs a variety of projects to connect with Western New Yorkers and improve our local waterways. She trains our volunteer citizen scientists who collect water quality samples and report Harmful Algal Blooms, ensures our high school Young Environmental Leaders Program runs smoothly, and she oversees our staff’s single-use plastic intake. She also is known to takes her work home with her and promote environmental hacks to her personal Instagram audience.

Liz has invested a lot of time in finding ways to protect our waterways. Everyone has the right to enjoy clean, fresh water. However, many of our urban waterways are being choked with trash, most of it single-use items. If we each do our part to reduce plastic waste, our waterways will benefit.

Here are 5 of her tips to reduce plastic use!

1. Say no to plastic bags. It’s become the norm to use plastic bags at grocery stores, for restaurant takeout, and at commercial shopping locations. These plastic bags accumulate and stay in the environment for decades. Bringing your own bag to the store is a sustainable way to get everything you need and reduce the amount of plastic you use in the environment. Did you forget your reusable bag? See how much you can carry with just your hands!

2. Bring your own reusable mug. Liz loves coffee! When she takes a stroll down Main Street with Joel and Margaux, she brings her own reusable mug to eliminate the single-use waste. While coffee cups are made of plastic and cardboard, they are not recyclable (in most cases.) It takes energy and resources to continually make those single-use cups. Why not use your own mug that can be used again and again?

3. Be aware of takeout containers. Do you eat out a lot? Most people do with their super busy schedules. If you aren’t able to cook at home and bring your own leftovers for lunch, try and select restaurants that have made the switch from plastic to paper to-go containers. Bonus points if you can compost that paper container after enjoying your meal. Does a restaurant only use Styrofoam? Don’t be afraid to suggest an alternative or ask if they could put the food in your own container.

4. Carry a reusable straw and utensils with you for takeout. We’ve all been there. Life gets busy and you didn’t get to the grocery store. Or you’re craving someone’s cooking beside your own. Cut down on waste by bringing your own straw and utensils to lunch. Keep them in your bag because you never know when you’re going to need them.

5. Be mindful of what your clothes are made of. Fast fashion is no longer in style. Before you get a new clothing item, look at what it’s made of. Many items are made of plastics and when those items go through the washing machine, they leak microplastics into our waterways. By purchasing more sustainable materials, like cotton, it benefits the environment.

Being an environmental steward doesn’t mean you do everything perfectly. Don’t try to go zero waste overnight! It means you’re making an effort to reduce your footprint by taking practical steps in everyday life to create new habits.

Liz Cute

Community Engagement Manager