Living Lightly: Skipping the stuff

Living Lightly: Skipping the stuff

Disposable plastic utensils can take hundreds of years to decompose.
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Earlier this year New York City passed an ordinance aimed at banning utensils in take-out orders from restaurants unless specifically requested by the customer. This common sense waste reduction measure, called “Skipping the Stuff,” will keep millions of plastic utensils out of the waste stream where they’re either burned or buried. Similar legislation is likely both in Suffolk County and New York State.   

There’s no reason, however, to wait until additional laws are passed to reduce your use and disposal of unneeded plastic utensils by simply remembering when you next order take-out food to tell the restaurant to “skip the stuff.”  After all, the extra plastic spoons, knives, and forks, probably individually wrapped in plastic film, aren’t needed in most situations, are not recycable and take hundred of years to break down. A benefit to the law, in addition to it being better for the environment, is it saves local businesses money; not a bad thing! 

The “Skip the Stuff” effort and city law is an excellent illustration of waste reduction, the highest priority in waste management — reducing the amount of garbage produced in the first place. Its value is captured in the phrase: “There’s no environmental impact from garbage that’s not created.” So, since those plastic utensils are unneeded by you and yet another burden on the environment, let’s make an effort to “Skip the Stuff”!

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.