Monday, July 8, 2013

More Than Fish in the Sea

From the bean of Green Bean.

Earlier this summer, I was lucky enough to spend a week at a resort south of the border.  We basked in the sun, drank margaritas and wiggled our toes in the sand . . . and plastic.

My attempts to enjoy quiet walks on the beach morphed into a plastic picking extravaganza.  I filled my hands with bottle caps, Polly Pocket shoes and straws.  I stuffed my pockets with food wrappers, snorkels and beads.  I jammed my beach bag with broken milk jugs, disposable cups and spoons and sea plastic (broken bits of plastic, their ends worn down by the waves).

Buzz kill!

I've spent the last 5 years of my life trying to minimize my family's plastic consumption.  Here, however, staring me in the face on a far-flung beach was evidence that my personal efforts were nowhere near enough to make a dent in our planet's plastic problem.

That is not to say that we should not all do what we can to use less plastic.  We definitely should! (For inspiration and ideas, check out Beth Terry's blog and book).  But, but, but . . . what else?

Here is my to-do list:

1) Revitalize my efforts to minimize plastic use at home.

2) Write a letter to the resort asking them to use less plastic in their pool and beach-side service.  Instead of plastic cups, try reusable or at least paper.  Instead of plastic spoons, wooden spears or spoons.

3) Write a letter to the company that makes my kids' school lunches.  We only order those a couple of times a week but I know that each lunch comes complete with at least one or two plastic bags.

4) Share this YouTube video far and wide.  If you've not see it, please watch it and share.  It shows where all of our plastic ends up.  You'll never look at single use plastic the same after watching this.

5) My city and county have already passed plastic bag bills but I will work toward a state-wide bill. ities Has your city passed a plastic bag bill yet?  Follow (and be inspired by) grass roots efforts to institute a common sense ban in Philadelphia here.

6) Ask: "Are we ready for bans or taxes on single use, single serving water bottles?"

7) Educate others on alternatives to single use plastics.

8) Join a local beach or creek clean up and help remove other people's plastic.

These ideas still seem as small as the plastic pieces littering our beaches but they are a place to start.  What more can we do?  What are you doing to address the plastic problem?


Kath said...

So true. I run races, and I get really upset when I see a ton of water bottles, aka single-stream recycling opportunity, and they are thrown in the trash.
I have made it a point to find the organizer and ask for change every time.
At home, I try, too. Current project is soap and shampoo-bar making, helps control ingredients, cost, and a ton of plastic containers!

Green Bean said...

Kath - Thank you for the comment. Good for you for taking the time to contact the organizer. I have to believe that if enough of us speak up, we can make some difference!

Green Bean said...

I was happy to get the following email back from my children's school lunch provider: Thank you for your note. We too are very concerned about the Planet and have
taken many steps to reduce Kid Chow's footprint on the environment - in fact
all of our clear plastic containers and bags are biodegradable plastic.

I am attaching our packaging chart for your reference - as you will see most
of our packaging is either compostable or recyclable with very little
"waste" items.

Christy said...

That's great that your school's food program taking some positive steps. I stopped ordering from my children's program because everything comes in plastic containers (like in the deli section of the supermarket). If they get anything like that now I tell them to bring it home and I reuse them in some way (art supplies, take away containers for family meals, etc).

I hope to do my part this year by taking part in the Great Canadian Shore Cleanup in September.


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