The Replace and Avoid Challenge

How much plastic waste does your household produce? Use this tracker to find out—and identify ways to reduce it.

We know that carbon pollution is causing climate change. One way people release carbon pollution (also known as carbon emissions) is by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas to make electricity. But that's not the only source of carbon pollution. Another important source is plastic.

People use a lot of plastic. Think about all the plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic straws, and food wrappers that you have used. Now imagine millions of people throwing away that much plastic—it really adds up!

Plastics are made of fossil fuels. The process of creating plastics releases carbon pollution, and the process of recycling or otherwise disposing of them also releases carbon pollution. That's a lot of carbon emissions for items that we typically use only one time! That's why eliminating single-use plastics from your life is one way to fight climate change and reduce your own carbon emissions.

How much plastic can you eliminate from your life? Find out with the Replace and Avoid Challenge. Use the Replace and Avoid Tracker worksheet. Print off the PDF or, if you don't have a printer, copy the design and draw your own chart on a piece of paper. For an entire week, tally up how many plastic items your household goes through. You can also count your paper towels and cans, since the process of creating those items releases carbon pollution, too. Once you know how much you're using, you can find ways to reduce your plastic use so you help birds and help prevent climate change. 

Some ways to reduce your plastic use:

  • Refill a reuseable water bottle
  • Switch to a reuseable metal, glass, or bamboo straw
  • Bring tote bags to the grocery store 
  • Store food in reuseable containers like tupperware or glass jars

Pickering Creek Audubon Center offers classroom and field-based educational programing for students from pre-K through high school. Pickering Creek educators lead lessons focused on birds, local wildlife and ecology, climate change and environmental stewardship. Climate change is a central theme in the Center's programming for 4th grade, 6th grade, and high school students.