Let’s be plastic free! A Movement we at GLOBE are hoping you will consider incorporating into your life.
Last month, the LUUF GLOBE Committee introduced the first in our “Climate Crisis Conversations” Series to you, with the Article “In Regard to Guarding our Globe”. Bonnita & Sandy shared their perspectives and started this important and vital conversation. This installment of “Climate Crisis Conversation” Kim, Suzanne & Sandy are continuing that conversation with “Plastics, a Global Pandemic, let’s be plastic free”
Kim: When I learned about plastic use and how it dramatically impacts our planet, I just knew I had to do my best to work towards eliminating single use plastic from our everyday life. It has not been easy and every day we strive to do better. It is especially not easy during a pandemic. But plastic is a crisis and we must try to figure out ways to tackle this crisis, because...
Did you know, EVERY DAY 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean. That is equivalent to one truckload dumped into the sea every minute of the day. From there, it goes on a long and destructive journey. “The plastic that enters the ocean can be carried vast distances by currents to all parts of the world, including remote Antarctica and the Mariana trench, the deepest place on Earth,” says Winnie Lau, senior officer for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Preventing Ocean Plastics campaign. Along the way, it infiltrates ecosystems and causes untold harm to marine life. Hundreds of thousands of marine animals get entangled in plastic waste each year, ingest plastic, and ultimately that ends up on our plates and in our stomachs as well.
Plastic packaging is designed to be exceptionally durable – and as a result much of it does not biodegrade, nor recycled. Depending on the type, plastic can take between a few decades to potentially millions of years to disintegrate in a landfill. Consequently, unless it is burned, which itself causes pollution, nearly every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists today. Last summer we at GLOBE spread community awareness about single use plastic and were met enthusiastically with questions and concerns, as well as community support for eliminating single use plastic in Manitowoc. Some of the things we talked about this Climate Crisis of single use plastic are discussed further with Kim, Sandy, and Suzanne. We’re opening the blog comments for you too. Please share your concerns, your solutions and your challenges surrounding single use plastic.
Want to start living a plastic-free lifestyle? I have started with single use plastic we use in everyday life. We at GLOBE know that getting rid of single-use plastic can be a big lifestyle shift, but we want to help you get started. Eliminating these three items in your daily life are an easy way to begin your plastic-free life: plastic grocery bags, single-use straws, and plastic water bottles.
Plastic Grocery Bags: Did you know over one trillion plastic grocery bags are used around the world every year? In the U.S. alone it averages that one person uses one plastic bag every day! These bags are usually used just once and then they are thrown away. They find their way into landfills, they litter the streets or they end up in the ocean. Cutting out plastic grocery bags is an easy first step toward reducing your plastic consumption and using a reusable bag is easier for carrying your groceries! Think of all those times you have had a glass jar or heavy produce to carry home. Plastic bags are not strong enough for most of your grocery shopping, so most times you end up getting more than one, with only a few items in each bag, or doubled for strength, you’re using more bags than you realize. Reusable bags are made from stronger materials, such as cotton or nylon and can make grocery shopping easier. The hardest part of cutting out plastic grocery bags is remembering your reusable bags. But once you are in the habit, it becomes easier.
Our tips for remembering your reusable bag? Get a bag that folds up so you can always carry it with you. There are nylon bags that fold into a pouch, are light weight and slip in a purse, or pocket. Keep a canvas bag by the door, or in your car, so when you are ready to shop you can grab it and will not forget it.
Sandy and Suzanne, what do you do to remember to bring your reusable Grocery bags? What have you learned about plastic use that convinces you to remember your reusable market bags? Sandy: I need visual reminders to use my reusable bags so I keep them in the front seat of my car in a very bright and colorful tote. I also use post-it notes as reminders on the dash to keep me focused. It helps to remember that in 2003 Denmark put a tax on plastic usage and they are now averaging just 4 bags per person per year, so the plastic habit can be undone.
Suzanne: I often end up going back to the car to get my cloth bags, so everyone has the same problem. I do get plastic bags probably more than I should, but I also re-use them for packing shoes and dirty clothes when traveling, storing produce from the garden, as cushioning wrap when storing breakables. Very few end up in the garbage. With COVID-19 grocers didn’t want you to bring your own bag unless you packed your own groceries. No problem with that.
Plastic Produce Bags: Most grocery stores pre-package their fruit and vegetables in plastic and offer plastic bags for loose items. There are simple alternatives to help reduce your use of these toss away bags that are a huge environmental impact on the planet.
Buying plastic-wrapped or packaged fruits and vegetables can be convenient, but unfortunately it creates plastic waste. Instead, choose loose fruit and vegetables in your local grocery store, or head to a farmer’s market or organic store where plastic packaging is less often used.
Choose lightweight, reusable produce bags instead of the plastic bags which can be purchased on Amazon. These can be washed and reused.
It’s also worth asking if you really need a plastic bag. For example, if you’re buying a bunch of bananas, why not just keep them loose in your shopping cart. Actually, when we forget out reusable produce bags, because we washed them and forgot to put them back into our market bags, we just toss most of our fruits and vegetables right into the cart. Sandy and Suzanne, how are you managing produce plastic waste? Sandy: this is a struggle because practically everything is wrapped in plastic whether it is needed or not. When purchasing meat, I like to make a selection from the fresh cut butcher’s counter and have it wrapped in paper. The website: plasticpollutioncoalition.org offers ideas and places to purchase environmentally friendly products like beeswrap (www.beeswrap.com or amazon) to glass jars with bamboo lids to multiple stainless steel options. These products are expensive but they are good for the long haul.
Suzanne: I have seen these re-usable bags for sale in grocers in London. We should ask stores to stock them near the produce here.
Single use straws: Most restaurants put plastic straws in every drink. Reduce plastic waste and protect wildlife by requesting your drink without a plastic straw and bringing your own reusable alternative. Or, just drink out of the cup without a straw. It’s important that you state this before your drink is made; if the straw is already in there when it’s brought to you, it’ll likely become plastic waste anyway. Going beyond refusing single-use straws, you can also encourage and support businesses to only provide straws when requested, rather than as a default.
Consider bringing your own reusable straw. You can find metal, or glass reusable straws on Amazon. Carry them in your purse, or car glove box a you’ll always have a straw available.
Suzanne: I am really troubled by why people use straws instead of the lips the good Lord provided us for this purpose. But, my son explains it is sanitation – you don’t want to drink out of a glass others have used. To me, a lot of the use of plastic is this false notion that all germs are bad for us. Another example is liquid soap. Young people believe that bar soap is germy. Wrapping up vegetables is done for the same reason - someone may have touched it. Eight out of ten cells in the human body are not human cells. Yep, isn’t that amazing! Our bodies are just hosts to all the microbes we support. Keeping that microbe system in balance is the key to health, which means, don’t sterilize everything!
Plastic Water Bottles: Many people buy plastic water bottles when they’re out and about, only to discard them after one use. Buy a reusable water bottle, one that fits your personality. There are even foldable reusable water bottles you can stuff in a purse or backpack. If it’s the taste of treated water, consider investing in a filtration system that eliminates the taste of treating our water that keeps it safe for drinking.
Sandy & Suzanne, how do you limit your use of plastic water bottles? Sandy: I enjoy carbonated water, so it is easy to purchase this in many different flavors in cans. I also buy juices such as tomato and vegetable plus lemonade and ice tea in glass jars. Cans and glass bottles are recyclable, which we have access to through out trash hauler.
Suzanne: I never buy water in bottles unless I am travelling. I have used Brita filters, purchased jugs of water from the osmosis system in stores (and re-use the jugs for about a year before they deteriorate), and get the artesian well from water from down the road. I don’t like the chlorine in unfiltered water and have always lived in old houses with lead pipes, so getting clean water is important to me, but I am still not at the point where I feel I need bottled water. It is so sad that in Wisconsin, such a water-rich place, that we can’t drink our water. This is mostly due to the high use of nitrate fertilizer and farm run-off from large commercial farms. We ended industrial water pollution, now we need to end agricultural water pollution. Support small sustainable farms. Can that be part of our next conversation on climate?
Of interest, on July 28th @ 3:00 P.M. EST. a “Solution to Plastics Webinar” is being offered @ plasticpollutioncoalition.org. Another informative website is the Outrider Foundation. The managing director of the climate program there is Tia Nelson, daughter of our former Governor Gaylord Nelson and founder of Earth Day. When visiting this site select Climate Change and then select “Rethinking the Convenience of Single-Use Plastics.” This site has many interesting short videos.
To You as Friends of GLOBE: Sandy, Kim and Bonnita thank Suzanne for joining us this month on our “Climate Crisis Conversation” series. We hope that Suzanne will join us again, to have a conversation about agriculture water pollution in a future “Climate Crisis Conversation series. We ask others to “Engage with us by suggesting topics for future consideration, or writing an article, book or movie review, etc. for our "Climate Crisis Conversations" series For instance, Bonnita delivered an engaging conversation she had with Sandy in May and this conversation that Kim hosted. We'd love to you have host, or participate in a conversation about our current climate crisis.
We look forward to what you will share, what we will learn, and what we will accomplish Together as Planet Partners! Lakeshore UU Fellowship GLOBE Committee……….Thanks you.