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Join the war against plastic
Posted April 18, 2008
Almost every day I am asked at the checkout counter of the super market the question I have been torn about over the last couple years. Would you like paper or plastic? Now, I am very confident that I don’t want either.
I really never realized how much plastic I contributed to the earth until I went home the other day and did a check list of everything plastic in my house.
I was shocked how much plastic I had accumulated over the years from water bottles, candy wrappers, Styrofoam, plastic containers, the million plastic bags behind my refrigerator, non-recyclable plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner to the million pieces of plastics wrapped in plastic that go into the trash everyday.
There are ways to help change how we make and dispose of waste into the oceans, storm drains and landfills. With Earth Day just around the corner, I have decided to get on board in fighting this war on plastic.
Many of the Natural Food Stores are becoming more proactive and asking customers to bring their own reusable bags. Going more organic, a ban is in effect on Styrofoam containers that are not recyclable.
Also Whole Foods will not be offering plastic after April 22 at checkout.
It is estimated that 50 percent of all single-serve plastic beverage bottles are not recycled in California, that is 1.6 billion containers lost each year.
Petroleum based plastic is one of the most insidious pollutants that humans create and is often lightweight and more mobile, moving from populated areas to natural habitats through wind currents.
Unfortunately, it is one of the few pollutants we bear partial responsibility because of our demand for it and our refusal to forego its use or insist on biodegradable alternatives.
No one is sure how long plastic takes to biodegrade. Popular estimates are 500 years. But, of course, plastic has not yet been around long enough to reveal its entire decomposition process to us. Some say it could last 10,000 years.
Some of my environmentalist friends – who won’t let me take food home in a Styrofoam container or any form of plastic say we are in the Plastic Age.
It is speculated that the archaeologists of the future will dig down into the earth and reveal a layer of plastic that marks our lifetime with a boundary line.
One of the most tragic examples of harmful effects is plastic caught in the gyre swirls – a dead area of ocean – where it sits, breaking down into tiny pieces, being lodged in jellyfish and eaten by whales.
Even land animals are not safe. Birds mistake disposable lighters and other plastic for baitfish. They die of starvation, decomposing to reveal skeletons full of plastic.
This also makes me want to rethink my eating habits and what exactly is in my food. Sometimes I think going completely vegetarian isn’t such a bad idea.
I know I am going to do my part by switching to biodegradable trash bags and avoid using plastic whenever possible. Every piece of plastic I don’t use is a piece of plastic that is not in a landfill, a lake, a forest, an ocean or even in my next fish dinner from the lobster house.
Plastic is one thing. Eating it is another. So the next time you are at the checkout and they ask you paper or plastic, which will you choose?