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It's not just about the plastic straw in your drink or your grocery bags. Take a look around in your friendly, local grocery store. You are surrounded by single-use plastics!

Milk, yogurt, cheese, juice, soda, bread, laundry/dish soap, TP, pre-cut/chopped produce, cherry tomatoes, herbs, lotion, berries, meat on styrofoam trays/plastic wrapped. ...All used once and tossed in the trash.

In little Hamilton, Montana, vast amounts of plastic enter the landfill every day, to sit for hundreds of of years — unchanged. We Americans are profoundly spoiled by our food delivery systems. Pick up your coffee or fast food, rotisserie chicken in mostly plastic packaging, then toss it.

As consumers and stewards of our surroundings, we have a responsibility to say, "less plastic."

Talk to your retailers, e-mail corporate management, refuse to buy items with excessive plastic packaging, bring your own container for restaurant left-overs, buy in bulk (cereal, spices, deli foods, rice, nuts, trail mix etc.) Most stores can weigh your jar and then deduct it from the total weight at check-out — easy-peasy. Take reusable tots to the grocer, department store, book store, pharmacy. Re-use pet food bags for trash can liners. Donate bubble wrap/peanuts to local shipping stores. Donate planting pots to local nurseries, decline dry cleaning bags, buy bulk shampoo, dish soap, lotion by refilling old bottles (Rainbow's End or Good Food Store), buy or trade for used plastic toys, strollers & sports equipment, buy compostable trash bags(available in some store or on-line), choose an electric toothbrush or buy non-plastic alternatives, carry a metal or glass water bottle, keep vehicle tires properly inflated and rotated to get maximum life from your tires, use tampons with non-plastic applicators, consider cloth diapers instead of disposables.

Republic Services in Missoula (behind Costco, on Broadway) will take number one plastic (water/soda bottles), and translucent Number 2 plastic (milk jugs). Albertsons and Safeway will take plastic grocery bags for recycling. It's not rocket science folks! It just takes a little forethought and planning and we can make a difference in our little Bitterroot Valley.

— Betsy Saylor, Hamilton 

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