A famous frog once lamented that “it’s not easy being green” — but that was back in the ’70s! Thankfully, times have changed. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to lessen your impact on the environment and reduce the amount of trash you send to the landfill.
The nine integrated facilities that will form ReGen, Cayman’s Energy & Recycling Centre, are based on the international waste hierarchy that prioritises the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. While the energy recovery facility will process any trash that is not recycled, other elements of the waste management hierarchy will be critical to reducing overall waste generation, including diverting waste through reuse and recycling.
Here are five easy, eco-friendly swaps you can make today to produce less waste:
1) AVOID SINGLE-USE GROCERY BAGS
It’s estimated that 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly — enough to circle the globe seven times. Instead of paying for plastic bags when you shop, purchase a reusable tote that will see you through many years’ worth of trips to the grocery store.
2) AVOID PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
If you haven’t made the switch to a reusable water bottle yet, now’s the time! By switching from single-use plastic water bottles to a reusable one made from metal or glass, you personally can prevent approximately 217 plastic bottles from ending up in the landfill each year. In addition, while the landfill gets leaner, your wallet might feel a bit heftier. Tap water in the Cayman Islands is of excellent quality and about 98% cheaper than bottled water in the Cayman Islands.
3) AVOID PLASTIC CUTLERY
Buy a reusable set made of metal or bamboo cutlery and you will never have to worry about snapping your fork in half mid-lunch again. Some supermarkets and restaurants also offer compostable single-use cutlery as an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic versions.
4) USE LESS PLASTIC WRAP AND FOIL
Although tinfoil can be recycled if it is unsoiled by food, plastic cling film cannot be recycled locally. Skip these single-use items altogether by using reusable glass or plastic storage containers, beeswax wraps or washable baggies to keep your leftovers fresh.
5) AVOID SINGLE-USE COFFEE CUPS
Whether made out of paper or plastic, single-use coffee cups often head straight to the trash after being used. Many local coffee shops are happy to fill up your reusable tumbler or mug instead. These reusable beverage containers help keep your coffee or tea warmer for longer while simultaneously reducing waste.
In all cases, if you cannot avoid purchasing a single-use item, try to make sure that item is one that can be recycled or repurposed with a little imagination. When combined, these small changes can add up to a big impact on our environment and our waste management systems.
This article appears in print in the September 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Hannah Reid.