As part of Plastic-Free July, we encourage VTA staff and our community to learn ways to reduce plastic waste. This article provides several resources and ideas to the help you reduce single-use plastic every day at work and home.
Plastics Recycling in San José
Approximately 360 tons of recyclables are processed in San Jose every day. Still 1/3 of items placed in carts are landfilled because they were recycled incorrectly. To help divert plastics from the landfill, check inside the chasing arrows, located on the bottom of the container, to identify which plastics you have. Visit SanJoseRecycles.org for a complete recycling guide and check out this blog to find out which plastics are recyclable in San Jose.
Fact or myth: plastic bags can go into your recycling container? Watch this 30 second video to find out!
New Law in Effect: AB 1276
California's new single-use foodware accessories and condiments regulation (AB 1276) went into effect on January 1, 2022. This regulation requires food facilities to provide foodware accessories, such as utensils, straws, and condiments packets, only upon request by the customer. These single-use items are not usually recyclable, and often end up in landfills.
VTA’s Sustainability Program encourages all staff and vendors to switch to reusable foodware when possible. Please consider using reusable straws and utensils to ensure single-use items aren't sent to landfills or “wish-cycled” (items residents feel “should be” recycled) and potentially soil the recycling. For more information, please visit this Single Use Food Accessories FAQ page prepared by the City of San Jose.
Refuse Balloons and Single-Use Plastic Party Decorations
Plastics, including balloons and glitter, are easily blown down drains, into rivers and our ocean where they remain in the environment forever and pose devastating impacts to wildlife. You can still celebrate in style by swapping single-use plastic party decorations for reusable alternatives like fabric tablecloths, paper banners, pom poms, and streamers. Friends and co-workers are a great source of reusable decorations or materials that can be used over and over. Before buying anything, simply put the word out and see what you can borrow.
Green Your Bathroom
There are many solutions for the bathroom which not only will reduce plastic waste and have a positive impact for the environment but can also have a positive impact on your budget too. Try making your own personal care products by following online recipes and tutorials for soap, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, scrubs, and lotions using simple, inexpensive ingredients. If you’d rather buy pre-made products, look for those in bar form or packaged in a simple cardboard box. Another option is to take an empty bottle and refill it at a bulk goods store.
Avoid Cling Wrap for Food Storage
Plastic cling wrap is not recyclable and can choke and kill wildlife. Storing and packing food in reusable containers is a great alternative. You can also purchase reusable silicone bowl toppers to cover food in bowls, pots and pans, or even get crafty with an upside-down plate, reusable cloth cover or wax wrap. You can also buy reusable washable cloth bags to store and pack food in, as a better option to zip lock bags.
Speaking of food storage, did you know that bringing your own reusables to restaurants and cafes is considered safe during the pandemic according to scientists and health experts? Silicon Valley Reduces is an organization that helps businesses reduce waste by displaying a sticker on their door to let customers know it is okay to Bring Your Own containers for take-out dining. They also have a list of local businesses that accept BYO containers. So cool!
Not sure what plastics you can change? Take the Plastic Free July Quiz for inspiration.