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green living


Kick the Plastic Habit Choose Earth-Friendly Alternatives


by Avery Mack


G


rocery bags, bottles, cups and straws comprise much of the 9.1 billion tons of plastic manufactured world-


wide in the past 65 years. Once discarded, 79 percent resides in landfills and litters the environment, with more created daily. Annually, the equivalent of five grocery


bags of trash for every foot of coastline worldwide enters the oceans, killing 100,000 marine animals. A 2016 World Economic Forum report says that by 2050, the world’s seas could contain more plastic than fish. At the 2017 Our Ocean Conference,


the Ocean Conservancy and its partners announced a $150 million preventive plan.


“Tis is a major breakthrough for trash-free seas,” says Susan Ruffo, the conservancy’s managing director of international initia- tives. “Our research found improved waste management in Southeast Asian countries [Indonesia, Philippines, Tailand, Vietnam and China] can halve plastic going in the ocean by 2025.” When the United Nations launched


the Clean Seas campaign in 2017, Indonesia pledged $1 billion to reduce plastic waste by 70 percent within eight years through education, taxes on plastic bags and investing


30 NA Triangle www.natriangle.com


in alternative products. Increased awareness is crucial to buy and discard less, create alternatives and recycle more to support the planet’s overall health.


Expanding Footprint Lacking space, technology and equipment to transform waste into reusable materi- als, U.S. municipalities typically ship it to a sorter for processing elsewhere; oſten to China, where new regulations restrict what’s accepted, leaving trash haulers scrambling. Although recyclable, these are the worst plastics: #3, Polyvinyl chloride, used in plastic


wrap, toys, squeeze bottles and packaging for peanut butter, contains lead and phthalate esters (chemical compounds) that affect development of testosterone, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. #6, Polystyrene, in Styrofoam, plastic


utensils and disposable or carryout con- tainers, is toxic to our brain and nervous system; ask what restaurants use. #7, Polycarbonate, found in the


lining of canned foods, sports drinks, juice


drinks, ketchup bottles and clear sippy cups, contains bisphenol A (BPA), a prov- en endocrine disruptor.


Small Changes Make a Difference


Recycling weakens plastic grocery bags, necessitating double-bagging to avoid spills. Average families annually accumulate about 1,500 plastic bags, with 99 percent ending in landfills, as litter or stuffed in the pantry, ac- cording to the Center for Biological Diversity. Worldwide, many countries ban or tax bags. “Annually, 50 billion water bottles are


sold globally, including 30 billion in the U.S. Tat’s 1,500 individual water bottles thrown away per second,” says Deanna Latson, co-founder of ARIIX, which makes water purification systems, in Bountiful, Utah. “One filter can purify the equiva- lent of thousands of them a year.” Te U.S. annual bottle recycling rate is 23 percent. Beth Terry, of Oakland, California,


author of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, offers 100 tips at MyPlasticFreeLife.com, including this planet-saving advice:


Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock.com


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