Single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, and soda and water bottles, are designed for short-term convenience before they are thrown away or recycled. Sadly, many of these items are improperly disposed of and end up littering our public spaces or adding to the burden of recycling systems.

In today’s world, the allure and convenience of single-use plastics are overshadowed by their profound environmental impact. Whether you’re looking to make small lifestyle changes or advocate for broader environmental policies, understanding these impacts will help empower you to make more sustainable choices, even in the small moments—like declining that straw with your coffee.

Below are seven reasons why making the change can have a big impact:

  1. Reduces Waste in Landfills and the Environment

Single-use plastics, such as straws, plastic bags, and water bottles, are some of the biggest environmental hazards today. They are non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to decompose, which means they remain in landfills for decades, polluting the environment and endangering wildlife. By reducing your waste you play a key role in preserving Colorado’s natural beauty for future generations.

  1. Protects Wildlife

Plastic waste is a serious threat to wildlife. Not only can it be ingested or cause entanglement in animals, but it disrupts animal habitats, increases pollution, and introduces potentially toxic substances into their environment. The consequences of plastic pollution can be devastating for various species, including marine life, birds, and land animals. Reducing your use of plastic products is an effective way to help safeguard the environment and support biodiversity efforts.

  1. Encourages Sustainable Alternatives

Opting for reusable items fosters the demand for sustainable products, which are crucial for environmental health. According to a study on single-use plastics and alternatives conducted by Princeton University, the simplest items that you can start using that help encourage sustainability are reusable water bottles, reusable sandwich and food containers, reusable grocery bags, reusable straws such as metal or glass, and sustainable toothbrushes made of hardy materials or with reusable tips.

  1. Keeps Our Waterways Clean

Plastic pollution is a significant issue that affects our rivers, streams, and other water sources. It can enter our waterways directly by being improperly discarded and indirectly through stormwater runoff from roadways. This pollution harms aquatic life and can cause microplastics to enter our ecosystems and water sources. Every piece of plastic that is avoided and not used as a single-use item can help preserve cleaner waterways and support Colorado’s sustainability.

  1. Improves Community Health and Aesthetics

Plastic pollution tarnishes our landscapes and poses serious health risks to humans and animals alike. Communities free from plastic litter are healthier, more visually appealing, and attract more tourism, bolstering the local economy. Participate in local clean-ups through programs like Adopt-A-Highway and Sponsor-A-Highway to help maintain the scenic beauty of Colorado, enticing visitors and supporting businesses that rely on tourism revenue. By keeping our state litter-free, we not only safeguard public health and environmental integrity but also contribute to the prosperity of our communities.

  1. Sets a Sustainable Example

By choosing to refuse single-use plastics, you are making a significant contribution towards a more sustainable future. You’re also helping raise awareness about single-use plastics’ harmful effects and setting a positive example for others, encouraging them to follow suit. Helping others to make more eco-friendly choices contributes towards a culture of sustainability.

With these simple actions, you can join us in becoming part of the solution to end littering in Colorado. Together, we can create a cleaner future for Colorado.