Plastic Recycling is Out for China - It is Up to Consumers to Reduce Plastic Waste

plastic pollution
Plastic Pollution

As you have likely heard, China no longer wants all of the plastic the US has been sending. The audio of the full article from NPR is below.

Plastic is so problematic. It is difficult to avoid with all of the packaging that seems to go hand in hand with life in America and around the world. The National Geographic published an article about plastic and the Zero Waste Movement. This puts the use of plastic in the hands of the consumer. It may seem insignificant, but if the public puts their money behind the change they want, change will happen. Some ideas from the article for using less plastic are:

Stop Using Plastic Bags - While it is true that some reusable bags are made from plastic, they still help reduce drastically the number of single use bags that end up as trash in the ocean and in our communities. It is hard to forget the story of the young whale that died of starvation with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

Quit Using Straws - Straws are dangerous to marine life and a huge source of plastic pollution. Americans throw away about 500 million straws a day. If you have to use straws, buy paper straws for home use and request paper straws when you are eating out. If restaurants hear from patrons enough, they will often make the shift. An example of this is how many options for gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian are on menus today. That came from public demand. Change is possible.

Don't Use Plastic Water Bottles - Plastic water bottles are as bad as plastic bags. They are a huge source of pollution world wide. This is an easy problem to fix by simply purchasing a reusable water bottle. Current options keep liquids ice cold for 24 hours, and remove all the risks from BPA and other dubious chemicals that may leech into the contents. I see plastic water bottles often at house parties. An easy solution to this is to offer water in a large glass pitcher or container. Add some fruit or herbs as an attractive infusion, and do your part to reduce waste on the planet.

Avoid Plastic Packaging - This is a challenge because so much is packaged in plastic containers. In the article it mentions buying bar soap rather than bottled soap. You can also quit using plastic bags in the produce area at the grocery story. I often just skip the bag all-together or use reusable produce bags when a bag is necessary. Shopping at farmer's markets whenever possible is a good strategy as well. An open market approach is naturally more free of plastic. It is really about being conscious and noticing when things are wrapped in plastic, and looking for alternatives before just grabbing an item without thinking.

Plastic is one of the main sources of pollution on planet earth. It is easy to feel like we are stuck because plastic is the only option for some products at the local grocery story. We are not powerless however. We need to demand alternatives from big corporations. We can do this by not buying certain products, emailing companies, emailing our local legislators, and helping those around us to be more mindful. We also need to celebrate and support companies that are leading change.

Related Links
Five Companies Leading the Movement to Go Plastic Free
Seven Companies Committed to Cleaning Up Plastic Pollution
What are Businesses Doing to Turn Off the Plastic Tap?
These Major Companies Just Pledged to Cut Out All of their Plastic Waste


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