Kyra Sedgwick Reveals How to Live a Plastic-Free Life

Illustration by: Ryan Olbrysh

"Most of what we put in recycling bins isn't being recycled," notes the actress, who shares how she eliminates single-use plastics on the eve of the Environmental Media Awards Impact Summit.

Reducing plastic use is really big for me. The other day I didn't have my refillable water bottle, so I went into four places to try to find something like a sparkling water to drink in an aluminum can. Plastic is everywhere — it's not easy to avoid.

But when you start taking one action, it leads into other parts of your life. You've seen that video of the poor sea turtle with that straw getting pulled out of his nose? This creature has managed to stay alive for maybe decades and now a straw is going to kill him? It's pretty devastating where we are right now. The fossil fuel industry is producing more plastic than ever before, which contributes to global warming, and all that plastic is going to be around for the rest of our lifetimes and much longer.

This is an issue that never should have been politicized, but it all goes back to the oil companies, which have worked to destabilize the real news about plastic and its effects.

Unfortunately, most of what we put in recycling bins isn't being recycled. According to a report that I saw, six times more plastic is burned than recycled in the U.S. Tons of it also ends up in the ocean or landfills, where it breaks down into microplastics, kills wildlife and gets into our food chain and could kill us in the process, leaching chemicals into our food. Recycling isn't enough. We need to use less plastic in the first place. I have lots of tools I use to accomplish that.

TO-GO CONTAINERS AND UTENSILS

I have used stainless steel water bottles — Hydroflask and S'well make great ones — forever, as well as stainless steel U-Konserve or Life Without Plastic food containers. I always have a Hydro Flask for my coffee. Even though it has some plastic in the lid, it's really useful. I put stainless steel straws in my bag. Not that I use straws, actually, but I give them out. (You can buy them from Steelys, Life Without Plastic, U-Konserve or Klean Kanteen.)

You don't have to use and dispose of a plastic fork or knife in a to-go food situation. I always carry bamboo utensils, from To-Go Ware, in my bag and give them to everybody. The bamboo spoons, knives and forks are antimicrobial: You don't even really have to wash them after use, you just wipe them off. With food to go, I always ask for cardboard containers and if the business doesn't have them, I won't shop or eat there. Or I'll ask the restaurant to just wrap the leftovers up in aluminum foil. Remember those foil swans? Those are the greatest. Let's bring those back.

I also try to protest plastic use with my pocketbook. I'm not going to Starbucks and getting that iced coffee. And it's really too bad that SoulCycle still has individual plastic water bottles for sale!

GROCERIES AND GROOMING

For starters, I always bring my own shopping bags. A good thing to do is to try to purposefully not buy plastic at the grocery store. It's really hard to find ketchup in a glass bottle, but I make sure to do it. Sometimes, however, there's no choice. If I have to, I will buy chicken that's wrapped in plastic. Whole Foods is the worst, one of the biggest perpetrators of plastic. They have normalized it, with almost everything in a single-use container. It's become so much a part of the culture: "I want it in an individual pack and I'm just going to throw it away."

I use a body lotion from Barr-Co. that comes in a glass bottle — though I buy shampoo in a plastic bottle. Look, I'm not perfect — I do what I can.

WORK MEETINGS AND ON SET

When I'm in L.A., I call a round of Hollywood meetings "the water bottle tour." No, thank you, I don't want one. Whenever I go onto a set, I use a guide from the Plastic Pollution Coalition, which I belong to, on how to green a set (see page 85 for more on Hollywood's green production practices). I did this on The Closer. It starts with no plastic water bottles. Period. End of story. (There's still plastic sometimes because the big Arrowhead watercooler bottles that used to be glass unfortunately now are not.) The Coalition's guide also recommends against single-use condiment sachets and single-use cutlery, plates and cups.

We have to fight for legislation to reduce plastic packaging. Right now, the California assembly is considering bill AB-1080, which would phase out the sale and distribution of single-use plastics in the state by 2030 — call your representative to voice your support. We all live on the same, shared planet and have to be responsible for the next generation. Plastic isn't good for the earth and it isn't good for us. So no, thank you.

This story first appeared in the May 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.