The United States ranks behind Europe (30 percent) and China (25 percent) in recycling; recycling in the U.S. has remained at nine percent since 2012.
This much plastic enters our oceans every second!
Each year over 100,000 marine animals and one million birds die from ingesting and choking on plastic. Plastics leach harmful chemicals such as DDT into our soil and groundwater. Additionally, plastic products emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases during their production phase, accelerating climate change and polluting our air. Microplastics are accumulating in our soil and water. In spite of years of the mantra “Refuse – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle”, plastics are still a significant problem. China is now refusing to be the dumping ground for our plastic refuse. What will we do about it?
Ateneo de Davao is a Jesuit University in Davao City, Philippines. Imagine if all colleges and universities held to this standard, with students finding creative alternatives to single-use plastics. It would be interesting to know what they substitute for disposable gloves in their labs, cafeterias, etc. (Thanks to Greenpeace Philippines for this info.)
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure what I could do for Halloween trick-or-treaters that doesn’t involve plastic. Anything homemade or not packaged is likely to be thrown out by safety-minded parents fearing razor blades in apples or injected drugs in the chocolate, etc (The one year I gave up and decided not to hand out treats, Bernie Sanders came through my neighborhood with his grandchildren and I missed it!) Googling, I come up with a good idea from Wild Minimalist: Junior Mints, Nerds, or Dots in mini boxes.
I found Junior Mints at the Lebanon Co-op. They did come in a plastic bag, but not individually wrapped in plastic. ( I can reuse the bag when shopping in the Bulk Department . . . where they now have 3 kinds of pasta: brown rice spirals, quinoa elbows, and semolina penne.)
Government bans and restrictions for unnecessary and damaging plastic products or activities. Legislative reuse targets.
Mandated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations and strategies to make producers and companies responsible for the damage plastic causes to our environment, make them accountable for the entire lifecycle and true costs of their products.
Government and corporate investment in reuse models and new ways to deliver products using less or no packaging.
Corporate phase-out of production and use of single-use plastic products and throwaway product models.
A shift in dominant public mindsets away from our throwaway culture focused on convenience toward a vision of healthy, sustainable and more connected communities.
What are false solutions to plastic pollution?
Bioplastics – not as green as they seem, approach with caution. Though companies often market them under the same umbrella, a product is not necessarily biodegradable and may require very specific conditions to break down. They also do not solve the litter or throwaway culture problem.
Incineration – creates other pollution and does not address the overproduction problem.
Focusing on end of life like recycling or disposal – we can’t recycle our way out of this crisis.
Clean up – while clean up efforts help reduce litter problems, they do not address the source of the problem and ignore the unseen plastic pollution – micro-plastics.
Throwaway alternatives – replacing one single-use item with another does not necessarily solve the problem or help to address our throwaway culture. Refill NOT Landfill!
Go beyond picking up trash at the Source to Sea Cleanup and take the next step! Learn more about trash laws in your state, how you can get involved locally to help stop the flow of trash, and what CRC is doing with the petition and trash photos. Join us for an informal chat about trash and our local waterways. Open to everyone! We welcome your knowledge, questions, comments, stories, and ideas. Bring a friend and build a deeper relationship with our rivers.
A new investigation by Greenpeace delves into the ongoing environmental devastation caused by our recycling habits. It has been ten months since China closed its doors to the world’s recycling waste. For the past twenty years, it had taken enormous quantities of plastic and other recyclable materials from countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States. ‘Enormous quantities’ is not an understatement: the UK shipped two-thirds of its waste to China and the U.S. sent 70 percent. Overall, China used to take in 45 percent of the planet’s recycling waste.
Needless to say, the decision threw the recycling industry into total chaos because most countries do not have the proper infrastructure in place to deal with their own recycling waste. As a result, many cities and municipalities have limited their recycling capabilities and begun landfilling or incinerating a greater number of products that formerly were recyclable. Read more at TreeHugger Oct 2018
To celebrate the 10th year Anniversary, the Canillas Community Garden, in Lebanon, NH, held a dinner with zero-waste as a goal. The four garden Committee members brought ceramic plates, silverware, cloth napkins and mason jars – no disposable cups, plates or other avoidable debris. The entree was spaghetti and tomato sauce, kept warm on a barbecue grill, a variety of salads, and garlic bread. Ingredients for the tomato sauce came straight from the garden, as did the mint for iced tea. Ceramic bowls held homemade salads. Cookies and brownies were baked at home and brought on ceramic plates. While zero waste was our goal, we did have debris: the paper charcoal bag became our waste basket with a few garlic bread bags, cheese wraps, a large reusable plastic ice cube bag, and Tofurkey Italian sausage wrapper. Behind the scenes were cardboard spaghetti boxes (with cellophane windows), recyclable cardboard cracker boxes (with waxed paper liners) and no doubt other packaging for various salad and dessert ingredients. Not perfect, but a good indicator that stating “zero-waste” as a goal can greatly reduce the amount of disposables and landfill waste from a garden party for 16 people.
Canillas Community Garden, an organic garden in Lebanon, NH