Posts Tagged ‘plastic bags’

Pause and Think…..

 

Today is World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, and run by the United Nations “to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.”  World Environment Day is a day when the United Nations invites each of the seven billion people on the planet to make one change towards more responsible consumption of resources.  Whether you refuse a plastic bag, have a vegetarian dinner, take public transportation, or recycle your trash, each little step can make a big difference.

Make every day World Environment Day and take the time to read about climate change and its effects around the globe.  Think about your impact and what you can do help protect the earth.  Make it a goal to add new “green” habits to your lifestyle to lessen your carbon footprint.  Share your ideas with family and friends.

Appreciate the beauty of the earth and its many gifts………

 

For more ideas and green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Is There Still A Quandary Over Plastic Bags?

As I finished up a telephone call in my car in the Stop and Shop parking lot the other day, I observed a young woman unload her cart, filled to the brim with groceries, all bagged, maybe even double bagged, in plastic.  I was really taken aback! With that many groceries, wouldn’t larger paper ones be better if you didn’t have reusable ones?

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I mistakenly think everyone is aware of the problems with plastic bags.  Change in attitude is happening for sure, but we are clearly not there yet.  Below are some startling facts about plastic bags compiled from a previous post.

  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store, just one of many stores we frequent.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil or natural gas, both non-renewable resources, are used to make these bags.
  • Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. At this time roughly only 5 or 6% of them are recycled.  Millions end up in the litter stream outside of the landfills, either in the oceans or on land where aquatic life and animals, mistaking them for food, are poisoned. The rest end up in landfills. It can take centuries for them to decompose.

Though they are inexpensive to produce (therein lies the problem), easily reused as trashcan liners or lunch bags, and can be recycled, there are still too many plastic (and paper) bags. They seem to multiply – a direct correlation to the amount of stuff we consume!

Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. Fortunately, the movement to bring reusable bags to the grocery store is catching on and many stores now give a $.05/bag rebate. Whole Foods stores no longer carry plastic bags -100% biodegradable bags are now available.

Alternatives are there.  It’s time for all companies and consumers to get on board!

List of towns in the US that banned plastic bags:

  • San Francisco
  • Portland, OR
  • Falmouth, MA
  • Provincetown, MA
  • a few other towns in MA
  • Austin, TX
  • towns in the outer banks of North Carolina

List of countries with cities that banned plastic bags:

  • England
  • Mexico (Mexico City)
  • India
  • Burma
  • Bangladesh
  • Rwanda (reputed to be one of the cleanest nations in the world)
  • Australia

Countries where plastic bags are taxed, but not banned:

  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Ireland (where plastic bag use dropped by 94 percent within weeks of the 2002 ban.)

Countries where plastic bags come with a fee:

  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • Holland

Check out these other posts I wrote on plastics and ideas for reducing plastic usage

Some information compiled from: http://people.howstuffworks.com/how-many-cities-have-a-ban-on-plastic-bags.htm

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Traveling Waste

Ah, summer vacation!  There’s nothing like getting away.  Whether by car, by air, or by train, traveling however, generates a lot of waste!

My husband and I were recently in Asheville, North Carolina.  On the drive from Charlotte to Asheville, we stopped at a Subway restaurant , one of the healthier fast food options, for lunch.  Since I haven’t been to a fast food restaurant in years, I was shocked at the enormous amount of throwaway,non-recyclable products with each order – still!

My salad came in a sturdy, non-biodegradeable plastic bowl covered with a heavy-duty non-biodegradeable plastic lid.  The server gave me not one plastic packet of salad dressing but four.    My iced tea came with a plastic straw, several white sugar packets and a lid, even though we were eating in the restaurant.  In the paper bag  with my lunch ( a tray would have made more sense since we were eating there), was the plastic cutlery in a plastic bag and 6 or more paper napkins!   I returned the sugar packets, the napkins and the unused salad dressings.

fast food waste - plastic cutlery

 

fast food saladfast food salad dressings

 

On my flight to London, we had two throwaway meals.  The cutlery came in its own plastic bag, the salt and pepper in another, the cheese and crackers in another, the cookies in another, and the dinner itself in a plastic container sealed in plastic wrap.  Plastic water bottles, soda cans, stirrers, unused napkins – all I could think about was waste!  Some airlines do some recycling,  but not nearly enough.

I don’t understand why, considering the massive volume of fast food sold everyday and the thousands of daily flights, these companies don’t show more environmental consciousness and use biocompostable, biodegradeable disposable serving containers.  They do exist and plenty of restaurants use them for take out!   Starbucks and McDonalds are going towards more environmentally friendly containers and Dunkin’ Donuts recently eliminated Styrofoam coffee cups, but there is still such a long way to go.  It’s a complex issue I know, with cost being the bottom line.  The next time you are at a fast food restaurant, ask for more environmentally friendly containers.  That’s how change happens.

 

Reboot Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Lately, I’ve been hearing about rebooting our abandoned New Year’s resolutions.  It’s only February after all, and way too soon to let those good intentions fall by the way side.  Hopefully your resolutions included adopting new green living habits, but if not, it’s never too late to add them.

What is the most important green thing you can do?  Think.      

  • Think about unnecessary packaging when you buy something.  Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
  • Think about where that product came from and under what conditions it was produced.
  • Think about refusing those ubiquitous, non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags at the grocery store and bringing your own reusable ones instead.  (Plastic bags are banned in some areas of the USA and in some countries.)
  • Think about bringing your own bags on all errands.
  • Before you throw something away, think about whether it can be reused or given away.
  • If not, think about our jam-packed landfills and the importance of recycling.  According to Recycling Revolution, “The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1609 pounds per person.  This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.” There is good news however. Efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are paying off and landfill demand is diminishing.
  • Think about the seriousness of the record-breaking drought in parts of the country and what you can do to conserve water – turn off the water when you brush your teeth, shorten your showers and run your dishwasher only when full.
  • Think about consolidating your errands, walking or taking public transportation in an effort to conserve energy.
  • Think about turning off lights when you leave a room to save electricity.

In our busy, fast-paced lives we usually don’t take the time to think through our daily habits.  They become rote.  It takes about three weeks to develop a new habit.  Make these simple green tips your new routine.  Then, take the time to think and learn about why the time is now to start living a greener life.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Some information compiled from http://www.usi.edu/recycle/solid-waste-landfill-facts; http://postcom.org/eco/facts.about.landfills.htm.

Go Greener with Your Cleaner!

‘Tis the season of non-stop holiday gatherings with family, friends and co-workers when we bring out the “party” clothes.   Perhaps you spill sticky holiday punch on your new black velour pants or your husband’s silk tie dangles in the smoked bluefish pate and they need dry cleaning.  I go to an environmentally friendly dry cleaner, one that uses a safer alternative to perchloroethylene or perc. (Eighty-five percent of dry cleaners use the solvent perc classified by the EPA as a toxic air contaminant and possible to probable human carcinogen.)  I reuse some of the plastic bags the clothes are returned in when I travel and wrap nice pants or a dress in them.  Or I return the bags to my cleaners for recycling.  But there are so many!    I’ve always wondered about a better alternative to all that plastic!  Well here it is…

English: Many dry cleaners place cleaned cloth...

It’s called the Green Garmento, an eco-friendly, recyclable, breathable laundry bag that can be a hamper, duffel to carry your clothes to the cleaner and a garment bag in which your dry cleaner can return your clothes instead of plastic!  It holds 10 – 14 garments with a full-length side zipper for easy access.  It is machine washable and has a clear window for an ID or a dry cleaning ticket.  What’s more, it’s only $17 for two (or $9.99 for one) so that you can rotate them between home and the cleaners.  The green garmento makes a perfect holiday gift. You can order it online at thegreengarmento.com.

There are an estimated 300 million pounds of single-use dry cleaning bags that unless recycled end up in landfills, leaching chemicals and threatening marine and wildlife, every year.

It’s time to make a change to safer and more eco-friendly dry cleaning , don’t you think?


 

Single Use Products

If you think about it, single use products make no sense at all. That’s part of the problem. In our throwaway society, we don’t think about it. Continuing the theme of my recent post about eliminating aluminum foil and plastic wrap, I’ve listed below other products you can try cutting out (or at least cutting back on).

English: Reusable shopping bag

English: Reusable shopping bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Plastic bags – The movement to bring reusable bags food shopping is becoming well established. In fact, some cities and towns have eliminated them all together or charge for plastic bags. Start bringing reusable bags on your other errands as well. Make it a challenge to always bring them with you. Earmark some for food, some for clothes, etc. (Don’t forget to occasionally wash your reusable bags too.)

2. Plastic food baggies – They are hard to live without, but you can wash and reuse them a couple of times. Reusable cloth sandwich and biocompostable baggies are more available now as well.  Rule of thumb:  plastic and food don’t go together.

3. Paper Napkins – Cloth napkins are prettier, more durable, and certainly more eco-friendly than paper ones. Aim to use cloth napkins at most meals and keep recycled paper ones only as backup.

4. Paper Plates and Paper Cups – There is no doubt about their convenience, but they are totally wasteful, and plastic ones aren’t biodegradable.  For outdoor (or indoor) dining, consider dishwasher and oven safe enamelware. Lightweight and unbreakable, enamelware is perfect for camping or picnics too and comes in fun designs.

5. Plastic Water Bottles – There is no reason to buy plastic water bottles. They shouldn’t be reused and they don’t biodegrade. Use glasses at home and stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles for transporting.

6. Facial Tissues – This is one of those single use items you probably just want to cut back on rather than eliminate. I gave my husband some old-fashioned handkerchiefs and he loves them. Use them a few times, throw them in the wash and then reuse!

7. Dryer Sheets – There are lots of alternatives to conventional dryer sheets that aren’t made with chemical fabric softeners and soaked in toxic fragrances. Several natural brands use vegetable derived softening agents and essential oils instead. Reusable dryer balls made with PVC-free plastic or felt make the most sense to me – they soften clothes without chemicals, reduce drying time and save energy.

Cutting back on or eliminating single use products helps not only the earth, but your pocketbook as well. What single use products have you eliminated from your daily life? Email me – I’d love to know.

Too Much Plastic!

I recently came across a blog called Plastic-Free Guide.  The author Beth Terry lists every possible way to reduce plastic usage in your life.  In fact, there are 95 clever suggestions!

Her top two ways to reduce plastic usage you are hopefully already doing – bringing reusable bags and totes to the store with you (and that includes all stores, not just grocery stores!) and drinking from reusable water bottles, preferably a stainless steel one.

Beth conveniently categorizes her other suggestions for easy reading, the most doable ones I have listed below.

  • Plastic-free Grocery Shopping

Shop from local farmers markets; buy from bulk bins when possible; eat whole fruit instead of buying sodas, fruit juices and other plastic- bottled beverages; buy fresh bread or bread wrapped in paper; buy milk in   returnable glass bottles; stop buying frozen convenience foods.

·      Plastic-Free Eating and Drinking on the Go

Carry your own containers for take out food and leftovers; carry a stainless steel travel mug or water bottle; carry reusable utensils and glass drinking straws.

·      Plastic-Free Lunches at School or Work

Choose glass/stainless steel food storage containers; store foods without freezing; avoid non-stick cookware; choose stainless steel ice-cube trays.

·      Learn to Make It From Scratch

Make your own soy or almond milk, condiments or snacks.

·      No More Plastic Trash Bags

Compost food waste.

·      Switch to Natural, Plastic-Free Household Cleaning Techniques

Clean with vinegar, baking soda and water; use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box; use natural cleaning cloths and scrubbers; wash laundry with soapnuts or laundry powders without a plastic scoop.

·      Personal Care

Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap; give up shampoo in plastic bottles; use soap instead of canned shave cream; choose lotions and lip balms in plastic-free containers; choose toilet paper that’s not wrapped in plastic.

·      Travel

Bring your own water bottle or travel mug— even on the plane; bring your own snacks; don’t forget your headphones.

·      Plastic-Free Pet Care

Avoid plastic bowls; choose pet toys/furniture made from natural materials instead of plastic.

·      Get it Fixed!

·      Buy it Used!

  • Say No to Plastic Packing Material

Request zero plastic packaging when ordering online. (I love this one!)

·      Reduce Plastic in the Office

Avoid disposable plastic pens.

·      Plastic-Free Entertainment/Electronics

Look for secondhand electronics, games, and toys first; take care of what you have already; avoid buying CDs and DVDs.

·      No New Plastic Clothing

Choose natural fibers; shop thrift stores.

  • Avoid the worst plastics: Polyvinyl Chloride (#3 PVC), Polystyrene (#6 PS), & Polycarbonate (#7 other)

They  cause a host of environmental problems and can be toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Plastic is in practically everything! It’s impossible to eliminate it entirely from our lives, but Beth’s blog certainly makes us aware of our overuse and over dependence on it. Plastic has definitely made our lives more convenient, but at what cost?  I wonder given the harmful effects from the manufacture of and constant exposure to plastic; given that so much of it ends up in our oceans and landfills; and given that most of it is not biodegradable, why chemists aren’t coming up with more green plastic.  It’s time we demand it.

I encourage you to visit www.plasticfreeguide.com, read her tips, and take her plastic trash challenge.

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com. 

 

Information compiled from http://www.plasticfreeguide.com.