What Can I Do?

When it comes to living more sustainably, sometimes we get overwhelmed.  There’s so much that needs to be done. Some actions are hard.  Some alternatives are expensive.  But there are simple steps we can take to make a difference.  If you feel overwhelmed, try to take one step at a time. Over time, your actions will make a different.   Here are some simple suggestions to reduce our waste, recycle better and live a more sustainable life. 


Straws are NOT accepted with the recycling.  They belong in the trash.  

Straws are too small and get stuck in crevices of recycling machines, causing damage to the machines or just falling to the fall with residue.  (Get Green Now) (KSAT 12).  

If plastic straws are not properly disposed, they can end up in waterways, in our forests or on the side of the road, harming wildlife and leaving microplastics in the water and on our land.  

Straws are the 11th most found item in ocean trash (Get Green Now)

Straws will stay in landfills for hundreds of years and eventually will break down into microplastics that can harm animals and human health (Washington Post).

Americans use about 390 million straws per day (New York Times).  These straws use up precious finite resources for one use.   

Alternatives -- most important thing to do is refuse and reduce -- say no at restaurants and drive thrus.  If you are getting take out, use your own straw at home or from home.    

  • Don’t use one at all --  use a different cup lip, use a reusable cup with a reusable straw or  just go without.
  • Always have a reusable straw with you: Metal, bamboo, reusable plastic, glass. Make a kit of reusable utensils to have on hand and include a reusable straw.
  • If  you must use a single use straw, use a more eco-friendly single use option such as paper, hay or, even a pasta straw. 

Take action

  • Sign the One Less Straw pledge and encourage local businesses to sign as well:  https://onelessstraw.org/#signup 
  • Ask the restaurants you frequent not to automatically hand out straws.   Ask them to use an "OPT IN" policy to require customers to ask for the straw.   They can have a sign at the check out telling customers to ask if they need one.  
  • If your favorite restaurant uses an app for ordering, ask them to add into the app a separate ask for straws and other single use items.     

Credit: Content compiled by Lydia Wolfe, Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Commission Member.