I’m not a huge fan of plastics. From the growing concerns about health risks associated with many types of plastics, to the fact that it doesn’t readily biodegrade, plastic isn’t the great time saver it was touted to be. Then, to top it all off, comes the mystery of what types of plastics can and cannot be recycled. That said, I also haven’t figured out a way to take plastic completely out of my day-to-day life. Here’s how I’ve been dealing with my family’s plastic usage: First, I try to avoid buying plastic if there’s a better alternative. For example, I use glass and ceramic containers for storing leftovers, I filter our tap water instead of buying bottled water, I bring my own shopping bag whenever I’m shopping and so on. Second, if I do buy something in a plastic container, I check to see if it can be recycled. Most local recycling programs only accept plastic bottles with a neck that have the #1 or #2 recycling symbols. Our local program requires that we empty, rinse and remove caps and rings before recycling. And it doesn’t accept plastic containers #3 or higher, plastic bags, motor oil containers or vegetable oil bottles.

Preserve's toothbrush is made from recycled plastic #5.

What can you do with the rest of the plastic containers you collect? Well, I’ve found a solution for your #5 plastics. This is typically the plastic used for yogurt containers and the like. Preserve and its partners have created a program that offers simple ways to keep #5 plastics from ending up in landfills. Preserve recycles it in the U.S. and turns it into toothbrushes, razorblade handles and other recyclable products. It’s called the Preserve Gimme 5 program. You can participate in one of two ways: If you have a local retailer that has a Preserve Gimme 5 bin, drop off your #5 plastic containers on a shopping trip, or save up your containers and send them directly to Preserve. This is a wonderful solution for a tough-to-recycle plastic, and as more companies become committed to using our earth’s resources more efficiently and responsibly, the better it is for our planet and us. Find a Gimme 5 retail location near you.