Last night I challenged by friends on Facebook to choose one thing that they can do every day in the month of April to reduce their consumption of plastic. Then this morning, while scrolling through my news feed I came across a story of a pregnant whale that died with 44 pounds of plastic in her stomach. I truly wish that story was a rarity and that it was not a follow-up to the story I read last week about the whale that died of starvation and dehydration, a result of ingesting 88 pounds of plastic. These stories are becoming a part of our daily lives and to say they are heartbreaking would actually minimize the true consequences of our addiction to plastic. Specifically, single use plastic.
To say that this has become my cause would be an understatement. I have always been aware of the problems with single use plastic. But, I believed that since I put mine in the recycling bin after use, I was doing my part. Then 2 years ago, my husband and I watched the movie Plastic Paradise. This movie reformed me and my views on plastic. I am not going to give a synopsis of the movie, but I highly suggest watching it. It should be part of the curriculum in our public schools. If we start young, maybe future generations will care more than we do. Since seeing the movie, I have spent the last 2 years talking to anyone who will listen to me, trying to get them to reduce, reduce, reduce. I believe I have changed more than a few minds. But, it is truly not enough.
Yesterday my mom and I were driving through Milwaukee and the streets were covered with plastic bags, plastic bottles and balloons. Those are all products that do not decompose. In 1000 years, if not picked up and thrown into a landfill, they will still be there, probably looking the same way they do today. It’s a crime. As the only species on this planet with the ability to create such mess, it is our responsibility to all the other creatures to clean it up. I think we have all seen the pictures of turtles with a six-pack ring around their shell.
All this being said, I truly believe that plastic serves an important purpose. Hospitals could not run efficiently without it. Those without clean water after natural disasters could not survive without bottled water. It also nearly impossible to eliminate is completely, it is part of our lives now. But like so many things in life, less is more.
Think about some of the things you can do to reduce. Do you get coffee at your local coffee shop everyday? If so, can you bring your own takeaway mug and eliminate 30 plastic covers from our landfills? Do you use the plastic grocery bags at the store? If so, can you bring your own? Do you need a new toothbrush? Can you replace it with a bamboo toothbrush? My parents have swapped their daily vegetable juice from the plastic containers to the metal containers. One couple will be responsible for 52 fewer bottles in the landfill each year. The possibilities are endless and it can be fun if you make a game out of it. I work on it every single day, often times fall short. But, it’s worth the effort.
So, what are you going to do in April to reduce your plastic consumption? Everyone together can make a difference.
Photo courtesy of gemmalouisek.com/unsplash