We all secretly cringe when we see items going into the trash knowing they’re going to the landfill. It seems that the number of disposable items such as single-use water bottles, coffee cups, and grocery bags is at an all-time high. With more than one million disposable coffee cups going to the landfill annually and billions of plastic and paper grocery bags being used every year, there is reasonable cause for concern. Whether the appropriate items are recycled or not, the rate of consumption of single-use items is something that impacts us all.
What are the impacts?
Single-use items impact us in many ways. They sit in the landfill creating harmful emissions. Many of these items are lined with polyethylene (a possible health hazard), which often impacts lower-income residents in the community first. Beyond this, the production impacts of these disposable items are tremendous. The amount of resources and emissions associated with the production and distribution of one plastic water bottle or plastic bag alone is significant. We also must not forget the photos or videos of wildlife we have all seen being impacted by single-use waste. Needless to say, the impact list goes on and the pile of waste keeps building.
More and more Flagstaff residents are bringing their own reusable mugs, water bottles and shopping bags when they go, but we need more to take action. To inspire more residents to bring their own, we are kicking off a B.Y.O. (Bring Your Own) campaign.
What is the B.Y.O. campaign?
The B.Y.O. campaign is our way of tackling single-use waste in the Flagstaff community. We hope to encourage more Flagstaff residents and visitors to take part in B.Y.O. behavior every day.
When will the campaign begin?
The campaign is kicking off this month. Over the next couple months, we will be tabling, posting to social media, and spreading the word at events like Earth Day, as well as at grocery stores and coffee shops around town.
Do residents in our community not care? Is the action of bringing your own too difficult? To get an idea of what motivates community members and to see why some may not participate, we surveyed the community.
What did we find?
After receiving over 55 responses in the community, we found that the greatest barrier to taking part in B.Y.O. behavior is that they simply forget or find it inconvenient to bring these items. One surprising trend we saw was that in the Flagstaff community, most people either use these items regularly (76% to 100% of the time) or hardly at all (0% to 25% of the time). We also found that of the possible actions, people bring their reusable bags most often and bring their reusable mugs the least often.
The most common motivators for those who use reusable items are monetary incentives, environmental stewardship, and how the behaviors fit their lifestyle.
By marketing incentives, establishing community partners, getting the word out, and creating excitement, we hope to encourage this least active group to realize some of these benefits.
How can you help?
First, continue to B.Y.O. yourself. Second, encourage those around you to join in. And most importantly, join our B.Y.O. campaign by volunteering to table with us around town. There are multiple volunteer opportunities listed in the Master Recycler calendar with even more on the way. We hope you can join us in spreading the simple message of bringing your own.