On Reducing Plastic Waste in Denton

How often do you think about the plastic you buy when you’re checking out at the store? It turns out that the way we spend our money directly affects the planet, and right now our bad decisions are literally piling up across the globe.

In National Geographic’s June magazine, they featured several pieces about the extensive global problems that are coming from our overuse of plastic. Not only is our plastic use taking a toll on wildlife like many of humankind’s other bad habits, it’s affecting everything else as well: our water, our living space, the plants and animals that feed us. What is left that is free from our avalanche of plastic? From the plastic in our cars to our water bottles down to the glitter we shove into party balloons, plastic is piling up around the world, and it’s time to make some drastic changes.

There is happy news. You can help. Seriously, if even half of Denton participates in just one of the below-listed ways to help reduce, reuse, or recycle their plastic, we’ll be making our community and the beautiful patch of Texas that’s ours more healthy. And the icing on the cake is that while you’re helping save the planet, you can also boost our local economy by making some pretty smart (and cheap!) purchases.

National Geographic promoted this page on all their social media to urge people to quit using plastic disposable straws. I took the pledge, and I strongly urge you to consider it as well. Denton is making it easy for you, too. There are two places in town who have already stepped up to help the environment with their businesses.

Cool Beans, a local bar, sells a $1 take-home straw inscribed with the words “I’m Not Trash!” that changes colors with the temperature, and you can reuse it as many times as you’d like. They encourage customers to bring their straws back to use in their drinks, promising even to wash them. Additionally, several downtown bars such as Eastside, Harvest House, and Dan's Silverleaf use biodegradable straws that, unlike plastic, will disintegrate when they reach the landfills. These establishments are taking huge steps toward change, and not only can you support local businesses by getting a take-home straw or sipping from something that isn’t plastic, you can also help slow down pollution.

Of course, there’s more to reducing plastic waste than straws. A recent graduate of Texas Woman’s University, Sanlyn Ferguson, is currently on a journey she calls a “zero-waste agenda.” Her main mission is to leave the smallest ecological footprint possible, and she’s saving tremendous amounts of money doing it.

When asked what are some of the easiest steps to take toward living plastic-free, she said that she uses reusable bags for her groceries, reusable water bottles which are easy to find anywhere, and reuses the plastic she already has laying around the house. Additionally, she makes her own soaps and laundry detergents and keeps the mixtures in mason jars to cut down on purchases of plastic shampoo bottles and similar containers. “My zero-waste agenda helps me live a more conscious lifestyle that benefits both my planet and my wallet,” she said. “And I love the challenge of leaving a smaller footprint by reusing things as long as possible.” 

Speaking of reusing, if you’ve got stuff lying around the house that you’re not quite sure what to do with, check out SCRAP Denton’s website. They regularly update their donation lists so you can know what they’re looking for. SCRAP Denton is a place that sells used items of almost every variety.

The employees The Dentonite spoke with are unsure of how much plastic exactly that comes through their doors, but it's likely to be a big percentage. After all, according to National Geographic, “virtually half of the plastic ever manufactured has been made in the past 15 years.”

You’ll be sure to find some treasures upon every visit to SCRAP. They’re very talented at inspiring people to clean out those junk drawers we tend to avoid cleaning out and remaking those odds and ends into art. What can you make with your discoveries? They’re currently taking submissions to bring awareness to the four Rs (Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, Rotting) if you’re interested in helping spread the word.

And like you’ve been taught in school, when you’re done, reducing your plastic purchases and reusing the plastic that you still have, it’s time to recycle. Luckily for us Dentonites, our city is on the right track by offering a ton of great recycling resources listed on their page here that you should check out. And you know how to fill up that blue recycling bin on your curb, so get to it already.

We can do our part in our corner of the world. We owe it to ourselves, really. Check out a new straw from a couple of your favorite bars, grab some cool stuff from SCRAP, or even pick a way to reduce your waste in plastic, but whether you take one of these suggestions to heart or all of them, it’s time that we all become mindful of our plastic. Don’t fall victim to the bystander effect. It’s time to take action. We don’t have anymore room on the planet to pile this stuff up. As Ted Siegler was quoted in National Geographic, “This isn’t a problem where we don’t know what the solution is. We know how to pick up garbage. Anyone can do it.” Let’s get started, Denton.

Photo by Mateo Granados
Header image by Mateo Granados