There are many, many theories about how to go about recycling and save the earth. One of the best ways you can do this is by eliminating plastic from your home and daily activities. Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous products to be found, and it has certainly made many of the things we do more convenient. The problem with plastic is although it is has made many things we do easier, it is also toxic to our health. The best solution involves reducing plastic as much as possible and changing to other substances such as wood, metal, ceramic, and glass. Here are some statistics on plastic. As you read these, consider just how big of an impact plastic has on our health and environment:
- According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion.)
- Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade-breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.
- Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
- Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.
- Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
- The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
- Plastic bags are light and hard to contain. Because of their light weight, plastic bags fly easily in wind, float along readily in the currents of rivers and oceans, get tangled up in trees, fences, poles, and so forth, and block the drainage.
- Plastic bags are made from a non-renewable natural resource: petroleum. Consequently, the manufacturing of plastic bags contributes to the diminishing availability of our natural resources and the damage to the environment from the extraction of petroleum.
Although people intend to recycle plastic containers, the reality is that more of these containers are not recycled and end up in land fills to leach into the soil, or harm our ecosystem in many other ways. The reverse is true for wood, metal, and glass. Paper bags, glass, and metal can all be reused and if not, they do not harm our environment the way that plastic does.
There is a new product on the market produced from corn that could be the potential for replacing plastic altogether. This substance can be used for many items including cups, bags, clothing, and food containers just to name a few. The product is called PLA or polylactides. Visit The Christian Science Monitor to learn more about this clean product that degrades in just 47 days.
For more information on how to clean up the environment intelligently, visit the following web sites:
Read about how one food store in Seattle, Washington has changed their bags from plastic to paper (and fabric):
One reply on “Rethink Your Recycling”
It is true, plastic bags and product packaging are two of the worst polluters. I keep a few canvas bags in my car so that I don’t even have to think about whether or not I need a bag with my groceries – I just bring one in with me when I go into the store. It has two bonuses, one is the greater good of the earth and the other is none of that horrid “oh no, my bag just ripped while I was carrying my groceries into the house”
All of the packaging for “convenience” on products is ridiculous, thankfully since I buy mostly whole foods, the packaging is minimal, and since I discovered the lovely and fun world of bento boxes (these amazing japanese inspired lunch boxes that come with little reusable and insulated containers) I don’t use things like sandwich bags and so on. They’re usually really fun and cute, so I hope they catch on, and people use them instead of using throw-away packaging for everything!