Your Questions Answered: Single-Use Items
Did you know that over 40% of the things New Yorkers throw away are items that are only used once before disposal? Each day in the park, our team manages nearly 1,000 pounds of waste, much of it made up of these single-use items from carry-out lunches.
Once in the trash, single-use items end up in landfills where they release harmful greenhouse gasses, contributing to climate change. Plastic items never truly decompose, either. Instead, they break apart into tiny microplastics which pollute water sources and are harmful to wildlife and human health.
You can help decrease waste in Madison Square Park and beyond by avoiding single-use items the next time you order your lunch. Opting for reusable utensils, straws, and containers instead can make a big difference.
Today we’re answering your questions about single-use items and reusables in order to bring clarity to the impacts these items can have on the park and the environment.
Can’t single-use items be recycled?
While aluminum or paper can easily be made into new products, plastic is much more difficult to repurpose. Different types of plastic must be separated before processing, and considering how many variations can be found in just one packaged lunch, separating this waste is often impossible.
My workplace uses all single-use dishware and cutlery. How can they cut back?
We recommend encouraging your workplace to partner with a reusable container company like Re: Dish or Deliver Zero. They deliver containers and cups, then collect them to sanitize at their industrial washing facility afterwards so they can be reused.
Single-use items are everywhere. How can I make a difference?
Small efforts made by individuals can add up to large-scale change. Here are a few ways that you can help improve our relationship with single-use items:
- Let your politicians know you support the Skip the Stuff Bill in NYC, which would require that single-use items only be included upon request for carry-out meals.
- Carry reusable utensils and straws with you that you can use when ordering carry-out meals and drinks.
- When ordering carry-out, only take single-use items that you know you will need.
(Photo Credit: Elaine Martin)