Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

by Sam Lucas

At Coastal Watch, one of our goals is to help conserve our oceans and beaches by reducing the amount of single-use plastics in our community.

This year, in the spirit of Earth Day, we encourage you to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in your life. Refuse single-use plastics when possible and opt for reusable, environmentally friendly alternatives. For items that are not as easily swapped out, please adhere to proper recycling guidelines to ensure that your efforts do not go to waste. Recyclables can also be repurposed or “upcycled” to create useful products or fun, creative art projects.

There are five categories of items that are recyclable in Lee County:
1. Paper – Any kind except shredded, waxed, metallic, or soiled paper
2. Metal – Aluminum, steel cans
3. Cardboard – Boxes without a wax coating
4. Plastic – Numbers 1 to 7, but no Styrofoam or plastic bags
5. Glass – Clear, brown, or green bottles and jars

Only recycle items that fall within these categories. A large interference to the recycling process is known as “wishcycling”. Wishcycling occurs when items are tossed into a recycling bin with the hope that they are recyclable. It is done with good intentions in mind, but unfortunately disrupts the recycling process. A common example of this is plastic bags. Plastic bags cannot be recycled and are not accepted in the system. When recyclables are placed into plastic bags, they must be sorted out as trash despite what they contain.
The negative impacts of plastics stretch far and wide, threatening the health of oceans, coastal areas and waterways. Please join us in reducing the amount of single-use plastics in our community.

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Coastal Watch creates and implements conservation initiatives that promote and improve the future of marine resources and, our coastal heritage. For more information about Coastal Watch, visit or contact

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