Reduce / Reuse / Recycle
What You Can Do About Marine Debris
Big organized beach cleanups are great, but the ultimate solution to marine debris is for all of us – individuals and organizations alike – to stop the flow of trash into our ocean to begin with. Here are some basic things everyone can do to protect our ocean and beaches:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce the amount of waste you produce by using products that have recyclable or reusable containers. Avoid purchasing products with excessive packaging. And of course, use reusable shopping bags. Find out what your town recycles, and make sure you recycle it. Support recycling markets by buying products made from recycled materials. Find opportunities to replace disposable goods with reusable items.
At work, reduce paper consumption by reading documents on-screen and purchase recycled/reusable office supplies. Bring your lunch in a reusable lunchbox or cooler. Pack sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in reusable containers rather than in plastic bags and disposable bottles.
Dispose of Trash Properly
Dispose of trash properly, using the appropriate garbage and recycling receptacles. These containers should have lids and be big enough to contain your trash and recycling so nothing sits outside of the container. Recycle as much of your trash as you can, following your neighborhoods guidelines. Don’t litter – anything you throw on the ground can end up in our waterways. Pick-up trash from the sidewalks and streets around your home. Proper disposal and pick up of loose trash will reduce the amount of trash that ends up in your neighborhood’s streets and finds its way into local storm drains, sewers, and waterways. Ensure trash and recyclable receptacles outside the home are appropriately maintained and secured. Proper maintenance helps prevent trash from being blown or carried into storm drains, sewers, and waterways.
Spread the Word
- Tell family, friends, and neighbors about ways to prevent trash from becoming marine debris (see our resources page).
- Consider writing to companies to encourage them to reduce unnecessary packaging, junk mailings, and the use of hazardous components in products.
- Encourage source reduction, recycling, and composting programs for yard trimmings in your community.
- Urge schools to provide environmental education and to teach about source reduction, recycling, and composting.
- Support an environmentally sound waste program in your community that starts with source reduction.
- If your town or municipality does not have a recycling program, encourage them to start one and direct them to EPA’s Tools For Local Government Recycling Programs.
Find out more about what you can do to prevent marine debris at the EPA Marine Debris website.