So, eco freaks have been trying to tell everybody about the problems with plastic pollution for awhile now and before moving back to the High Desert I was admittedly a bit slow on the subject. In my city life, plastic was a way of life. Oh, sure, I’ve always been a bit thrifty and hated waste, but moving out here to the ranch, where there is no curbside recycling has taught me a few things about plastic.
It’s ugly. It lasts forever. It’s toxic. Did I mention that it’s ugly?
Let’s get real, okay? Plastic pollution is a serious problem. We’re not talking a little mess here, we’re talking mountains of waste, we’re talking more ugly than has any right to exist. And the price tag on this ugly?? The cost to our planet, our Mama Earth, is pretty steep. And we sold out cheap- a twinkie here, a bread bag there, a trip to the market.
According to various sources around the web:
- There are an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags consumed worldwide each year.
- That comes out to over one million per minute.
- Billions end up as litter each year.
- According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year and,
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags a year.
- Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.
- Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. This means when in the sun, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways as well as entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest the bits.
- It also means that when the bags end up in the Land Fills, buried with other garbage and hidden from the sunlight, they don’t degrade.
- According to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation, plastic bags are among the top 12 garbage items most often found in coastal cleanups.
Here in Thorne’s World we:
- Precycle; in other words we consider the packaging before we buy. Less plastic is always better here in Thorne’s World, and none is optimal, although I admit we’re nowhere near zero plastic yet. For a serious lesson in plastic precycling, head on over to Fake Plastic Fish! This is one dedicated gal, and there is a lot of valuable information on her site. Feeling really frisky? Take .
We use reusable bags for our groceries, and I’m still working on convincing my bulk foods market to allow me to use cloth bags for the food fruits & veggies, but it’s an uphill battle out here in the boonies. I think I’m going to just start piling the produce in the cart.
- Recycle; We haven’t used bottled water in years, we like our yummy naturally tasty well water just fine. What plastic bottles we end up with from milk and the occasional juice or from our laundry products are recycled after we…
- Reuse; On my Facebook page I’ve shared about how in thornesworld plastic bottles become plant warmers, vinyl blinds become plant markers and the black plastic gallon potted plant pots become collars to protect seedlings. Before eschewing plastic shopping bags I’m afraid we had amassed quite a collection of them since I simply refuse to send them to the land fill, so we also…
- Upcycle; Found a few fun ways to turn plastic waste into sustainable art and practical items to at least extend their use (among these were crocheting bags and rugs from them), and although plastic can be one of the more difficult waste products to turn into art, just have a look at what Jerry Ross Barrish and can do with discarded plastic items!
You’d think things would be getting a bit better since so-called “one use” plastic shopping bags have been substituted for the heavier weight multiple use bags, which cost ten cents each, but the number of folx I see checking out with a mass of plastic makes me think they don’t even care about the cost to their own pockets, let alone to our world.
In Ireland an extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced plastic consumption and thereby plastic pollution by 90%. Approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures. So far, about 125 countries have plastic bag bans of one sort or another. Plastic straws have been noted lately as another one use throw away plastic that’s choking our wildlife and waterways and seas. many folx are opting for stainless steel straws and though we have a few, my preference is old fashioned paper straws when I simply must have a straw. Then it can go into the compost. Easy peasy.
What do you do to reduce the amount of plastic you consume? How do you recycle or reuse it? Have you ever made any of the upcycled crafts at the link, or have projects of your own to share? Tell me about it, or leave the link to your own plastic post or tip in comments and I’ll visit and comment at your blog.
In Light and Shadow,
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