There are many societal benefits to adopting a vegan lifestyle besides the most commonly known animal rights. These are environmental conservation, health, and human rights. Therefore, many vegans are concerned with environmental issues, such as the excessive use of plastic and pollution.
If environmental protection and conservation are something you care about as many vegans do, the sight of plastic packaging and other waste will make you groan. You CANNOT recycle these plastics in regular recycling with materials like cardboard, glass, and aluminum as it clogs the processing machinery and causes many headaches for the facility’s workers. Plastic is over-used in retail and therefore can be difficult to avoid as a consumer. When plastic is thrown in landfill, it does not often stay there. It is light, gets blown around, and can end up causing harm to animals and polluting our water. When plastic is in the water, it can look like marine life and is eaten. This is killing marine life and causing a major shift in the ecosystem.2
What you can do is decrease plastic consumption as much as possible and recycle as much as you can.
To decrease consumption, you can bring reusable bags with me for every shopping trip (repurpose an old t-shirt), use reusable produce bags, reusable “ziploc” bags (find some here and here), reusable sandwich wrap, silicone lids, biodegradable bags for pets and for trash bags, and buy with less plastic packaging when possible. You might still find yourself so upset by the amount of plastic with which you end up. You may have noticed boxes at certain retail locations, like Target or chain grocery stores, for collecting used plastic shopping bags. Most places with these receptacles also recycle similar plastic materials. Target is a location that definitely accepts plastic wrapping other than plastic bags. You can go to http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org, type in your zip code to find locations with these recycle bins near you.
Please recycle only clean, dry plastic bags and film. Remove receipts or any other items from bags.
Here are some examples of plastics that can be recycled in these bins3:
- Retail, carryout, produce, newspaper, bread, and dry cleaning bags (clean, dry and free of receipts and clothes hangers)
- Zip-top food storage bags (clean and dry)
- Plastic shipping envelopes (remove labels), bubble wrap and air pillows (deflate)
- Product wrap on cases of water/soda bottles, paper towels, napkins, disposable cups, bathroom tissue, diapers, and female sanitary products
- Furniture and electronic wrap
- Plastic cereal box liners (but if it tears like paper, do not include)
- Any film packaging or bag that has the How2Recycle Label shown at right
Do not include3:
- Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
- Pre-washed salad mix bags
- Frozen food bags
- Candy bar wrappers
- Chip bags
- Six-pack rings
Please consider taking these steps to decrease plastic
I hope this helps you with decreasing and recycling of plastic packaging!