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Green Minds LFLB Position
on Plastic Pollution
In addition to the previous “BYOB” and “Say NO to Styrofoam” campaign Green Minds is working on reducing plastic pollution.
Plastic production has increased exponentially since the 1950s due to the material’s properties: It’s durable, lightweight and can be molded to whatever shape is needed.
So: “What’s wrong with Plastic?”
Plastic creates a problem precisely because of the material’s properties:
Most plastics are derived from propylene, a simple chemical component of petroleum. The energy-intensive production process produces extremely strong polymers called polypropylene. Nature doesn’t make things like that, so it can’t be broken down like organisms decompose organic matter, e.g. vegetables or wood.
Single-use plastic grocery bags are used for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium.
To recycle more will never solve the problem of massive production of single-use plastic and distracts from the real problem: Plastics pose multiple threats to wildlife through entanglement and consumption.
Dangers are posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food.
Plastics also accumulate up the food chain, and studies now show that we are likely ingesting it ourselves.
What can we do? The first FIVE steps you can start today and feel no pain!
Consider giving up the following single-use plastics for 2019
PLASTIC STRAWS. Plastic straws are simply unnecessary for most people. Remind the waiter not to bring you a plastic straw with your drink. If you must use one, consider carrying a reusable one with you.
PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES. One million water bottles are bought around the world every minute! Carry a refillable bottle with you. Collapsible bottles are available for those concerned about space.
COFFEE CUPS WITH PLASTIC LIDS. Disposable coffee cups have an oil-based polyethylene plastic lining that is difficult to separate from the paper shell in the recycling process. Most recycling plants are not equipped to deal with them, which means they go to landfill. Four billion disposable Starbucks coffee cups are thrown away every year . Carry a reusable hot beverage container with you.
SINGLE USE PLASTIC BAGS. Carry reusable shopping bags with you always. Leave them in the car. It may take some time to remember to take them into the store with you, but you will form the habit eventually!
THIN PRODUCE BAGS. The thin low-density polyethylene (#4 plastic) bags used for produce cannot go into your regular recycling. Consider bringing reusable produce bags along with your shopping bag.
A helpful guideline: The 5 R’s:
REFUSE … what you don’t need
REDUCE … what you do need
REUSE … by using what you have
RECYCLE … what you can
ROT … the rest