Years ago when I traveled in my job, I was a frequent hotel “guest.” Like everyone I collected those little individual use toiletries. There were plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion and sometimes body wash. There was always more than one could use, so I’d cart them home in my suitcase. Pretty soon I had too many at home and I’d donate them to homeless shelters, as I know some of my friends do today.
It took a while for me to realize what a waste these plastic pieces were and how they were destroying our planet. Our world is drowning in plastics of all sizes and shapes. Thank goodness some hotel companies are waking up to this problem and are doing something about it.
Hyatt, Marriott and Holiday Inn are three of the companies phasing out these little plastic bottles in their hotels and replacing them with large multi-use pump bottles. In addition some hotels are no longer routinely providing plastic bottles of drinking water. They are encouraging the use of personal refillable bottles by providing fresh water dispensers in their lobbies.
Hopefully this trend will continue. We should support these efforts. We all can do better.
After writing Wasting Planet Earth posted earlier today, I read a comprehensive article in the Courier Journal (7/1/18) about plastic straws. The movement to eliminate these devices is picking up steam. There was even a report on broadcast news last night about the subject (NBC).
In the CJ I learned that there is only one manufacturer of paper straws in all the United States. That company, Aardvark Straws in Fort Wayne, IN, cannot meet the demand so now many paper straws used in the US are from China. Aardvark’s natural cellulose product is both compostable and biodegradable.
We have been using plastic straws since 1970 and they are a part of the eight billion tons of plastic we dump into the oceans each year! By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the planet’s oceans than fish. We must do better.
If you still are not convinced that these small cylinders of plastic that we suck on so cavalierly are a problem, I challenge you to watch all eight minutes of this YouTube video. If you are sensitive to coarse language you should watch without sound.
Plastic drinking straws are taken for granted, but they should not be. The United States uses and disposes of over 500 million of these devices per day. Straws are unnecessary, but if one does not agree with that, how about this? “Plastic” straws are unnecessary. Paper straws are less hazardous to our environment and to wildlife. Reusable straws can easily be washed and reused for a lifetime. The next time you are in a restaurant, how about saying “No straw please.”
Plastic, Plastic, Plastic
Starting out with straws is easy. It’s a little thing that each of us can give up without any pain. Plastic, in general, is a different challenge. Take a minute and look around where you are at the moment. How much plastic do you see? Are you touching it? I am, both the keyboard and the protective cover over the top of it are plastic. There’s my phone case, my TV remote and on and on. I know we cannot eliminate plastic completely, but that does not mean we cannot reduce it. I’ve been trying but barely making a dent. I can do better.
First, we must care. Then it helps to be informed. I’ve done some research today and the statistics are sickening. Here are just a few provided by EcoWatch.
The average American discards 185 pounds of plastic per year.
Americans throw away 35 billion water bottles per year.
Worldwide, one million plastic bags are used per minute!
By age six years 93% of all Americans’ blood tests positive for BPA, a plastic chemical.
We cannot do without many things that are plastic, perhaps, but what about the things we can eliminate? What about the things that we can use over and over again before tossing?
There are many who do better than I. My cloth grocery bags are often forgotten in the back seat of my car, only to be remembered after I have filled my grocery cart. I carry a nylon bag in my purse to carry smaller purchases in other stores and forget to use it as well. Today I put the cloth grocery bags in the front seat where I can see them more easily. I plan to say, “No bag please” for more purchases in other stores. I can do better.
I know someone who has completely eliminated non-recycle materials from her life. It began during March of this year, her birthday month, when she eliminated all plastic of any kind for thirty-one days. I couldn’t believe what she was able to accomplish, buying food in bulk and placing it in paper or nylon bags, for instance. That was an inspiration to me to do better.
Are there ways that you eliminate waste and especially plastic that you’d like to share?
“Pollution is a serious one. Water pollution, air pollution, and then solid hazardous waste pollution. And then beyond that, we also have the resources issue. Not just water resources but other natural resources, the mining resources being consumed, and the destruction of our ecosystem.” Ma Jun