Thursday, May 17, 2012

If It Is Thursday It's Going Green - Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags

NYC Subway - In the stairwell of the R/W train in NYC at Rector Street (by Wall Street). Photo submitted by Steph

Most of us start consuming non-renewable, non-recyclable products from the time we are born, starting with disposable diapers. Breaking the habit can be painful and uncomfortable. But if you think of all that can be gained from changing just a few of your shopping and consuming behaviors, you might find the motivation you need.

One of the biggest environmental problems related to over-consumption is the production and disposal of excessive packaging. Because we are a society that is programmed to buy everything in an attractive box or bag, over a lifetime we can contribute to the disposal of hundreds of thousands of highly toxic boxes and bags into landfills where they'll slowly poison our soil and water. Stop the wasteful packaging cycle by keeping these simple tips in mind next time you're at the store.

Bring Your Own Bags/Refuse a Bag: Did you know that over 500,000,000,000 (that's 500 billion) plastic bags are consumed annually, or almost 1 million per minute? Most of these bags are only used once before ending up in the landfill. Avoid the issue of paper or plastic by bringing your own canvas or hemp sacks whenever possible, and refusing extra bags, like double bagging meats or bagging produce that doesn't need it.

Concentrate on Concentrates: Sometimes good things really can come in small packages, and small packages mean a smaller carbon footprint. Look for products that you can buy in concentrated forms that will save money and produce less carbon emission to make and transport. Common concentrates include juices, soaps, and household cleaning products.

3.6% of emissions come from waste. Here, too, we can have an impact:

Buy fewer packaged goods. Buy loose fruits and vegetables rather than those wrapped in plastic on Styrofoam platters.

Buy less in general – ask yourself "Do I really need this?"

Buy from the bulk bins – most grains, cereals, nuts, rice, raisins, etc, are available in bulk. It is usually cheaper and the item can be placed in a paper bag, thus avoiding cardboard boxes and plastic wrapping.

Buy reusable instead of disposable.

Currently floating in the Pacific Ocean is a giant field of plastic trash that is twice the size of the continental United States. Stretching from our west coast to Japan, this man-made mess is severely affecting the Pacific’s ecosystem. Experts say that dangerous chemicals from industrial waste, such as PCB’s, stick to any plastics in the water. The chemicals are then ingested by marine life and birds – and via the food chain, by humans.

How does the plastic get there? From streams and rivers, beaches and boats. "There is no technology to get rid of plastic", says Marcus Erikson of the nonprofit Algalita Marine Research Foundation. “The only solution is to stop adding it to the ocean.”

Some countries already have announced bans on free plastic bags.
Urge your local markets to go plastic free.

Speak up, stand up, let’s do something about it!

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