Green Challenge #2 – November 1, 2010 – November 1, 2011
Reduce Plastic Waste
One of the biggest environmental problems is the amount of plastics sitting in landfills today. Any idea why? Because plastic doesn’t break down! It takes a simple plastic grocery bag YEARS to decompose in a landfill. Check out this list to see how long it takes certain things to biodegrade. According to Green Ecoservices, “90 billion plastic containers & bottles being landfilled or incinerated every year.” And that doesn’t even include plastic grocery bags and plastic utensils. We can take a few steps to help prevent so many plastics from going into the landfill.
Here’s what Chris and I are going to be doing for this challenge:
- Never accept plastic grocery bags when grocery shopping. We’re going to keep our reusable bags in our car at ALL TIME. And, if we happen to forget them, no groceries that day. Or we’ll buy a reusable bag.
- Always use a reusable coffee/tea mug. I’m going to start carrying my reusable tea mug in my car at all times also, just in case I want to stop at a local shop to get tea, I will have to bring it in to use. No more plastic cups or lids! If I don’t have my mug, no tea for me!
- Ditch bottled water and other bottled beverages. This is a no-brainer! Bottled water is one of the most deceptive industries on the planet! Why are we paying for something we can get FOR FREE? Because of convenience. Treehugger.com states, “Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil—enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year—are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns even more oil.” Also, about 98% of water bottles produced end up in landfills, where they sit for years upon years, before even beginning to decompose. (source) From now on, we’ll be only drinking tap water, which is a free and abundant resource anyway. Also, drinks like diet soda are not sustainable at all because their production uses energy and gives you none since it contains zero calories! This includes vitamin waters, health waters, and sports drinks (we can make our own mix with sugar and water and juice if we need it).
- Reuse plastic packaging. We’re going to reuse the plastic containers our food comes in, whenever possible! If we have no need for it, it goes in the recycle bin! Here’s an example: what to do with empty hummus containers? They would make great containers for sandwiches made with sandwich thins, don’t you think? Also, we are going to try to reuse containers so we can buy in bulk, which will also reduce plastic waste.
- Eliminate plastic waste when eating out. That means either recycling plastic containers (for example, Chinese food) or not buying any food that comes with plastic that we can’t reuse. So when ordering Chinese, we will ask for no sauce or silverware, because we throw out of the silverware and throw out the sauce, and they are made of plastic. When at a restaurant, we won’t use straws either.
- No Styrofoam when eating out. This means no leftovers and no take out places, such as Bros Tacos (one of our favorite take out places) because polystyrene comes from petroleum, which is oil and we need to reduce our use of it.
Why are these going to be a challenge?
In Chris’ words, this will be challenging for a few reasons. One, we will seem like jerks and it will probably get annoying when we ask waiters to not give us straws and when we tell servers not to give us plastic forks. Two, it will be hard to decide where we eat because we get leftovers a lot at places (like El Mariachi, who have huge portion sizes.) But maybe that will help us curb our eating as well as eating out. It’s a challenge because I think a lot of people would rather avoid being a pain in the ass, and just take the straw or whatever, so by making ourselves uncomfortable in the name of the environment, that is challenging.
Though small, these steps will hopefully help reduce a minimal amount of plastic waste. The less plastic that goes into landfills, the better! But if a few people take this challenge with us, it may encourage more people to do the same. Leave me a comment if you plan on joining me in this challenge. Also, is there something I missed? What are some other steps we can take to help reduce plastic waste?