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We had 1,155 volunteers participate in the Spring Sweep this year. We collected tons (literally) of trash both on the shorelines and in the water. While this is an incredible impact for WNY and the community, more is needed to keep our waterways protected day to day throughout the year. During #PollutionPrevention week, we wanted to empower you to take a look at your own consumption habits and see where you can reduce. When we talk about “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” reduce is first for a reason. Let’s work together to prevent pollution!

Tips and Facts to Reduce Trash

Observe Your Habits

Look at the different facets of your life. What do you enjoy doing and where do you enjoy spending time? Do these habits and hobbies involve consumption? What ways can you cut down on single-use waste in daily life?

Work Life

Whether you’re working from home or in an office setting, there are ways to reduce waste in any environment! Read this blog post from Wendy, our Community Engagement Manager, to learn strategies from lowering the amount of trash made in the office.

Home Life

Do you find yourself filling up that trash and recycling bin before garbage day? Instead of buying another receptiacle, consider what you’re disposing of and how you can reduce waste. Learn how our Deputy Executive Director of Finance decreased her household waste in this blog post.

Having a cookout? Learn how to make it more sustainable from Lauren, our Senior Planner.

Grocery Store Life

Recently, NY banned single-use plastic bags at grocery stores. While reusable bags are great, too much of anything can be harmful. Consider reusing a shirt from home to make a t-shirt bag. While in the produce section, try to gravitate towards items that aren’t covered in plastic and skip bagging these items in plastic. Many produce items don’t need a bag, and those that do can go in a reusable produce

Eating Out Life

Does your favorite takeout place use styrofoam or other hard-to-recycle containers? Next time you order, pay attention. Consider skipping the straws and plastic silverware, and talking to the owners about switching to more eco-friendly takeout containers. Learn more about using less single-use plastic from our Community Engagement Manager, Liz.

Cigarette Butts

How much smoking-related waste was collected at volunteer cleanups in 2019 across the Great Lakes Basin? 339,716 cigarette butts, 44,822 cigar tips, and 6,868 other smoking-related waste products. Tobacco related waste is the top type of litter found in the Great Lakes. Tobacco-Free Western New York put these butt bins up around Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. What a great way to prevent litter![/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.3.2″ text_font_size=”20px”]

Water Bottles

5.6 Million pounds of plastic enter Lake Erie each year. That’s the equivalent of 201 billion plastic bottles per year. One bottle takes about 1,000 years to break down. Less than 30 percent of bottles are successfully recycled. Plastic water bottles leach microplastics into our water resources that may be harmful to people and animals. Get a reusable one.

Pay Attention to Policy Changes

As end users, we are only part of the problem. If you’re looking to sign on to impactful bills and learn more about policy work that can slow production of single-use items, follow our plastic pollution page.

Follow updates for the Break Free from Plastic Act.

Get Involved in Challenges and Cleanups

Participate in a challenge! Plastic Free July is happening NOW! Are you up for a whole month without single-use plastic?

Consider doing a solo sweep to clean up litter in our watershed. Remember to fill out a solo sweep data form to tell us what you found. Your data could be part of the next big policy change!

Get to Know Your Local Recycling Programs

It’s Erie County’s 200th birthday this year! Here are some great resources from the county about recycling. [erie county, erie county byobag]

For recycling info from the City of Buffalo, click here: buffalo recycles.

For additional recycling info, click here: freecycle.

My colleagues teach me something new every day! I am more intentional about my consumption habits thanks to them.

Jess Amico

Digital Marketing Manager