EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
GREEN TIP: Before you buy another plastic item, think about the long-term impacts. We consume billions of bags and bottle each year in the US alone and only 5% is being recovered for reuse. Look for alternatives to plastic like glass, metal and paper (from sustainable sources).
The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys, and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea. Source: 5 Gyres
What can you do?
Baby steps: Collect your own plastic waste for one week, without judgment or guilt. At the end of the week, examine it as a scientist would. What does it say about your lifestyle? What kinds of things would be easiest to give up or replace? Plastic bags? Plastic bottles?
Learn a new mantra: Bring Your Own. Start with the easiest thing to remember. Is it a reusable water bottle? Reusable travel mug? Reusable grocery bags? Pick one thing that you will bring with you each time you go out and practice bringing it every time. Once that becomes a habit, add another reusable item.
- Bring your own shopping bag to the grocery store, to the mall, to the thrift store – anywhere you would be getting a plastic bag to put your items in, bring your own instead.
- Use your own stainless steel or glass bottle for your to go beverages.
- Use paper, stainless steel or glass straws.
- Bring your own produce bags to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
- Choose milk in returnable glass bottles. Locally you can find milk and cream in returnable glass bottles at Sydney’s Health Market.
For more ideas and alternative to plastic, visit http://plasticfreeguide.com/.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
To find out more about 5 Gyres and their goals, visit http://5gyres.org/who_we_are/mission/.
Gyre Facts from the Gyre Clean Up Project
- A Gyre is a naturally occurring vortex of wind and currents that rotate in a clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. These create a whirlpool effect, whose vortex moves more slowly at the center and that is where marine plastic debris collects.
- There are 5 major Gyres in the oceans worldwide, all of which are believed to contain plastic and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These consist of carbon-containing chemical compounds that, to a varying degree, resist photochemical, biological and chemical degradation.
- The North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and swirls in the Pacific Ocean roughly between the coast of California and Hawaii.
- Currently, an estimated 11 million tons (and growing) of floating plastic covers an area of nearly 5 million square miles in the Pacific Ocean, 700 miles northeast of the Hawaiian Island chain and 1,000 miles from the coast of California.