Plastic is found in virtually everything these days. Your food and hygiene products are packaged in it. Your car, phone and computer are made from it.
And you might even chew on it daily in the form of gum. While most plastics are touted as recyclable, the reality is that they’re “downcycled.” A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton — it can be made into a lower-quality item like plastic lumber, which can’t be recycled.
How big is our plastic problem? Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a swirling vortex of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil.
I – Word Understanding
Touted – described excessively (for promotion purposes)
Downcycle – converting waste material to something of lesser quality or functionality
Landfill – an area where waste is buried under the ground
Plankton – organisms that live in water; they are food source for larger water animals
II – Have Your Say
Here are simple steps we can take that will dramatically decrease the amount of plastic waste we generate:
1. Just say no to straws.
2. Use reusable produce bags.
3. Give up gum….you’re chewing plastic!
4. Buy boxes not bottles.
5. Buy from bulk bins…and bring your own reusable container/bags.
6. Reuse glass containers.
7. Use reusable bottles and cups…for your drinks.
8. Bring your own container…..for you takeout, for example.
9. Use matches over plastic lighters.
10. Skip the frozen section.
11. Don’t use plasticware.
12. Return reusable containers.
13. Use cloth diapers.
14. Don’t buy juice…make your own.
15. Clean green.
16. Pack lunch the right way.