Celebrate Earth Month by Reducing Single-use Plastics

Switch out single-use plastics for reusable options: bags, silverware and bottles

By Andres Cantu

The City of Austin has made a commitment to address problematic plastic waste by creating a circular economy for plastics. That means rethinking how we produce, use and reuse plastic so that it never becomes waste in the first place.

What can you do to reduce your plastic waste on Earth Day and every day? Among others, refuse single-use plastics that you don’t need, reuse plastic items when you can, and recycle single-use plastic products when you’re done with them. 


Simple shifts away from needless items can reduce your waste and the materials heading to landfills.

  • Next time you head to your favorite restaurant, think about bringing your own straw or going straw-less; the single-use plastic drinking straw can take two lifetimes to decompose.
  • Ordering takeout? Nix the plastic ware and single-use condiment packets for options you likely have at home. A 2021 report found that annually, Americans use nearly one trillion disposable food service items like knives, forks and spoons, to name a few.
  • On your next trip to the grocery store, try shopping with reusable canvas totes and produce bags to cut down on your plastic bag reserves.


As modern consumers, there are just some items that cannot be refused or reduced. For those items, consider options that provide reuse instead of disposal.

  • A reusable water bottle often keeps your drink cold for longer than its single-use counterpart. 
  • Try packing leftovers in reusable storage containers or compostable wraps that can be reused multiple times before having to toss them in your green composting cart.
  • Rinse and reuse those empty plastic jars to store snacks like candy, cookies and chips.
  • You can also buy in bulk to eliminate individually wrapped items, then refill the container when you run out of the product. Now you’re refusing and reusing!


Recycle the plastic you can't avoid. Use our handy 'What Do I Do With...' tool to see if the item is accepted in the blue recycling cart.