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  • Writer's picturePearl

Thinking about Single Use Plastic

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

We are more and more frequently bombarded by easy convenient access to single use plastic and all of the impacts of these readily available single use plastics. However, what to do about it and how simple it is to make the choice to use less is less clear.

Single use plastics are anything made out of plastic that you use for only a short time, perhaps even only one time. Plastic stays around for a long time; up to 1,000 years. They are everywhere for our convenience and the convenience of transportation: water bottles, straws, and bags. They are items for our entertainment: the dollar store bauble that your kid gets at a birthday party, the mail order packaging, and CDs. Single use plastics can be found in every room in our homes: toothbrush and toothpaste, soap holders, laundry detergent bottles. This is not anywhere near a comprehensive list, but you hopefully get the idea without getting overwhelmed.

Here are a couple of work arounds:

Just say no thank you. You can refuse the bauble, the straw, and many other things by asking yourself if it is necessary? Will the joy last only a moment? Can you enjoy saying no thank you more than the moment of satisfaction? Is this only a momentary convenience?

Bring a reusable bag everywhere or just say no and carry your items. Oops, forgot my reusable bag and I have too much to carry. Walk back to your car/apartment for your reusable bags, or buy the number you need at checkout. You can use reusable bags anywhere from Target to the farmers’ market to the grocery store, the purchase will not go to waste and it will help you remember in the future. Plastic bags look a lot like floating jellyfish in the water and have been made for the convenience of the utilities. The bags are made of ethanol in natural gas, by removing this distillate the gas burns at a lower temperature and meets regulations. When they are recycled, the plastic cannot be turned directly into another plastic bag, but must be added to other plastics and chemicals to make a hard plastic.

Carry an extra water bottle for when you want another beverage. I was in Grand Central over the last few weeks, a departure from my normal routine that gave me the opportunity to put this idea into action. Although the extra water bottle took up some room in my bag, it didn't weight much and it kept my smoothie cold much longer then the single use plastic cup. Use a metal straw--somehow, cold liquids taste even more amazing out of a metal straw--or a silicone straw if you like the flexibility, a bamboo straw or no straw are also excellent options. They are not expensive and they last a long time. I know, you’re getting weighed down here, but it will make you stronger. Based on a research project by straw manufactures, 500 million single use plastic straws are used each day in the US. Well…that sounds like lot, how much is it? It’s enough to fill 127 long school buses each day.

Have CDs you’d like to ditch? Recycle them. CD’s are made of made of #7 polycarbonate plastic and cannot go into most curbside recycling bins. Polycarbonate can be melted and reformed without losing its material properties, so they can be repurposed indefinitely—how cool is that! Take a moment, separate out the different elements (paper, cover, CD) and mail them and electronics that aren’t being used as a coaster to the CD recycling Center of America. Shipping costs are very low by using “Media Mail Rate.” By doing this you are supporting an American recycling business and increasing the demand for such businesses allowing them to thrive in the United States.

There are a lot of options and choices you can make to reduce your impact on our planet. If 100% zero plastic in your life isn’t a personal goal, that’s ok. Let me help you set and meet reduction goals. The small changes of many is much greater than the large changes of the few. Your reduction matters!

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