New Year’s Pledge: I’ll Reduce by 75% the Amount of Single-Use Plastic I Contribute to the Planet

Pasta straws

In 2019 I promise to refuse 75% of the single-use plastics that I accepted in 2018.

Just last week my family and I had dinner at a seaside restaurant that served pasta straws made by the Amazing Pasta Straw company. 

The ingredients? Flour and water.

And in the three hours we drank through the same ones for water, soda and iced tea, they neither disintegrated, get slimy nor formed any sort of yucky sediment in the drinks.

My review is that they are a perfect, compostable alternative to plastic and even paper. 

“. . . We are trying to solve a huge world-wide problem — one straw at a time.”

And for anyone preferring not to come into contact with gluten, Paradise Cove (where we had Christmas lunch) offers paper straws.

So while I understand that moving toward a zero waste lifestyle isn’t easy — it takes planning and currently can cost more — the planet is suffocating in the absence of these changes.

Zero Waste and Single-Use Plastics

And speaking of zero waste, there is a new company in Denver called Zero Market that offers items in their store and by mail order that make generating less waste easier.

In Laramie, Wyoming where I live, and oodles of other places, co-ops feature walls and aisles of bulk items from tea to olive oil to dish detergent that are cost effective and kind to the environment because they lack bulky and wasteful packaging.

Zero Market, on Dallas Street
in Aurora, Colorado

In 2019 I promise to refuse 75% of the single-use plastics that I accepted in 2018.

So here is a partial list of what I commit to reducing and eliminating in 2019:

•  plastic straws
Already I don’t use them in restaurants, and when occasionally they are served wrapped in plastic or paper, I ask that they be removed. I also carry bamboo and steel ones with me.

•  restaurant food leftover containers
I will begin to bring my own glass container when I know I’ll be eating out.

•  produce grocery bags
You know those green ones that rip off a roll.  I recently bought a slew of organic cotton ones from pataBee.

•  grocery store bags
This one is easy, and many mid- to large-size towns have expectations that shoppers will have their own.

•  hotel amenities
I started bringing my own soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner and leave the small plastic containers right where I found them.

•  plastic cutlery —forks, spoons, knives
I started carrying in my purse a bamboo set – and yes, remembering they are there is sometimes the hardest part of the plan. 

airline plastic cups
Help! I get thirsty, and this one is harder . . . any ideas?

•  plastic water bottles 
I’m going to be better about carrying a water bottle with me.

“. . . the planet is suffocating in the absence of these changes.”

So . . . what about you?

Take Action!

Encourage local restaurants to use pasta straws. The publicity they get will be great, and drinking from pasta is fun!

Watch Jeff Bridges talk about pasta straws (5 minutes into the Colbert interview).

Check out the Amazing Pasta Straw company.

Shop online at Zero Market.

Find local co-ops to support and while there, buy bulk food using your own containers.

.   .   .

Ellen is a native of northern Maine. Her interest in getting to know Wyoming focuses on ways people and organizations help and protect individuals, wildlife, beauty, and rights. She is a HeartMath® trainer and coach, a Connection Practice trainer and coach, and a biodynamic craniosacral therapist. Her website is: and her email is

“Remember that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West

Giving Up Single-Use Plastic Comforts and Conveniences

We just returned from 10 days on the road.

1,900 miles and only about 5 of those outside of Wyoming.

It’s a big state and a long way to travel without plastics.

But we didn’t do that.

I watched as the soda bottles, caps and food wrappers piled up, and clothes needing washing were shoved into plastic hotel laundry bags.

And all the while discomfort seeped in.

It’s impossible to ignore that I am an active part of the single-use plastic problem that plagues the world.

What to Do?

A recent Scientific American article said we’re being hoodwinked if we think good recyclers / bad recyclers — simply recycling — is the answer.

“Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution . . .” Matt Wilkins

It’s true, we should do simple things like decline plastic straws and supply our own beverage containers and grocery bags.

And we should encourage others to do the same.

But the bigger battle is all uphill when vested interests fight legislation.

A $6 million ad campaign financed by the plastics industry impacted plastic bag ban legislation in California.

And the beverage industry poured $14 million into averting a National Bottle Bill.

Shockingly, experts think that by 2050, there will be more plastics then fish in the oceans.

“Some 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year from land. And to put that into perspective, that’s one New York City garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean every minute of every day for an entire year.”  – Nick Mallos, Ocean Concervancy

Hope on the Horizon

McDonald’s says it will end styrofoam use by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is looking at alternatives.

They are partnering to create a “circular economy model.”

It’s also referred to as “cradle-to-cradle” use of plastic materials.

And it involves innovative thinking to minimize waste by including plans from the getgo for reuse and recycling.

Additionally, National Geographic recently announced a multiyear initiative to reduce single-use plastics.

•. •

After our trip I set aside plastics to recycle and forgave myself for what I could have done better.

Any of us can speak up alone or collectively and demand change.

Yet if we do, we should be prepared to alter our own habits.

And that means foregoing comforts and conveniences that lure us to plastics in the first place.

If I’m truthful, that may be the hardest part of all.

.  .  .

 Take Action!

Join me in taking the plastic-reducing pledge through National Geographic

And see how one Laramie restaurant, Sweet Melissa, has changed the culture of straws

Read More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution, by Matt Wilkins, Scientific American Blog Network, July 6, 2018

Listen to Here and Now, Americans Throw Out Millions of Plastic Straws Daily, and Here’s What’s Being Done About ItMay 2, 2018

Read about the plastic bag ban legislation in CaliforniaEnvironmental Nuisance or Grocery-Store Necessity? California Voters to Decide Fate of Plastic Bags, by Taryn Luna, October 8, 2016

Explore innovative collaborations regarding plastics at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Read the New York Times Article, Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe? Or Maybe Not, by Livia Albeck-Ripka, May 29, 2018

And read more in the New York Times Article, Six Things You’re Recycling Wrong, by Livia Albeck-Ripka, May 29, 2018

Read National Geographic’s “Planet or Plastic?” accessed July 23, 2018,

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
Her website is

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.1  — C. West