A staggering 22 million pounds of plastic enters the Great Lakes every year, threatening wildlife and even our drinking water. On top of that, nationally, the plastic recycling rate is a dismal 9%. Our waste management system is simply not able to recycle at a rate high enough to keep up with the amount of plastic used.
From sharks in our ocean to sturgeon in our lakes, animals everywhere need you to take action to tackle plastic pollution—here’s how!
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1. Raise your voice
Plastic pollution is everywhere in the Great Lakes and ocean, harming wildlife from birds to beluga whales. On land, plastic production and disposal puts frontline communities at risk. Illinois needs to step up now to solve this growing problem, and you can help.
Our state needs to require manufacturers to reduce plastic packaging and shift to reusable systems. The single-use plastic that remains would need to be truly recyclable, and oversight agencies would be empowered to hold industries responsible to pay for managing this waste.
2. Be sure to compost
As many restaurants shift to compostable to-go food packaging as a better alternative to traditional plastics, we all need to take the next step by properly managing those containers when we’re done with them. Many of these compostable products will not break down easily in a landfill and need to be taken to a composting facility. If your city does not offer compost pickup, consider signing up for a monthly compost pickup service or bring your compost to a farmers market that accepts this kind of waste.
3. Put your money where your mouth is
Ever notice how some restaurants you order from use more sustainable alternatives for delivery and carryout compared to others? Show your support for eco-friendly restaurants by ordering from them more often and be sure to thank them for making good choices for the environment. Love a restaurant that you think uses too many disposables? Let them know you’d like to see them cut back on plastic and invite them to join Let’s Shedd Plastic for support.
4. Nominate a restaurant
Through our #LetsSheddPlastic program, we are working alongside Chicago-area restaurants to seek sustainable alternatives to plastic. We see restaurants as leaders in their communities with the power to drive change and prevent plastic pollution from entering the Great Lakes. Have a favorite restaurant you'd like to join? Nominate them!
5. Volunteer to restore habitats
Make a difference for the local aquatic world! Volunteer and take action for animals on one of our Action Days to restore and protect nearby beaches, waterways, and forest preserves. You’ll support animals from frogs to fish while having fun and learning along the way.
6. Opt out of Cutlery
Plastic cutlery and other accessory items like condiment cups are difficult or impossible to recycle. Many restaurants and delivery company websites offer the option to opt out of items like cutlery. For those who don’t give that option, be sure to tell them over the phone or in the comments in your online order that you want to decline the extras. Share your commitment to #CutOutCutlery on social!
7. Shop consciously
We can all make a big difference for the animals we love with thoughtful choices about the products we purchase. With this in mind, we've consciously curated a list of gifts and experiences for you and your loved ones with a focus on conserving nature. When you shop our gifts and experiences, you’re giving back to aquatic life everywhere by supporting what we do and our blue planet.
8. Stay up-to-date
Calling all nature lovers, animal enthusiasts and community scientists! Introducing Surge: a dedicated community for Earth-friendly living. We need your energy, your passion and your ideas to drive our new community dedicated to building a healthy and equitable future for all members of our shared planet. Get tips delivered right to your inbox from experts you trust!
9. Celebrate on Social
Post a photo on social media of your delicious carryout or delivery order and share your appreciation for restaurants that use sustainable alternatives to plastic. Handmade cocktail mix that comes in a recyclable glass bottle? Fresh salad greens served up in a fiber-based compostable container? Looks good, tastes great, and is better for the environment. Be sure to tag the restaurant and us at #LetsSheddPlastic.