Single-use plastics—food packaging, shopping bags, drinking straws, beverage containers, etc.—constitute 88,000 tons of plastic thrown away in the United States every day, and outnumbers sea life 6 to 1.
Single-use plastics drastically increase the plastic pollution that is polluting our oceans and affecting our health and wellbeing. Plastic waste harms marine life, disrupts human hormones, litters our beaches and landscapes, and clogs our waste streams and landfills.
According to Earth Day Network, in 2016 world plastics production totaled around 335 million metric tons, and roughly half of that was destined for a single-use product. And the main cause for the increase in plastic production is plastic packaging, which constitutes 52 percent of plastics thrown away.
We can do better to end plastic waste
In response, Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics.
We at Paladino have committed to reduce plastic waste and pollution. We are taking personal responsibility, and also thinking about the complicated role that plastics play in construction and the built environment.
In addition to this video, which has three ideas to reduce plastic waste in new construction, our PALs share how they are committed to ending plastic waste, one single-use plastic at a time.
I have reduced my use of plastic for years, mostly by using a reusable water bottle. But after reading Plastic Free by Beth Terry, it really inspired me to make bigger changes by thinking more carefully before I purchase something new, and looking for ways to reuse or donate the plastic materials I already have. Stainless steel straws are my favorite plastic replacement.
I am the worst plastic grocery bag hoarder. I don’t want to just throw them away to the landfill and I justify keeping them because they are good to reuse for pet waste. But then I did some quick math: a weekly trip to the grocery store yields 20 plastic bags per week or a 1,000+ per year! All of which end up stored in my garage.
Fortunately, some quick research revealed that my local grocer will take them back and send them to manufacturers who then recycle grocery bags into new building materials such as decking and roadway paving. And, there are compostable doggie bags for sale at my local pet store. The next move for my family is to reusable shopping bags!
Hanna Swaintek and Pia Engel
I’m excited about all the innovative ways that excess plastic is being used – from plastic bricks to composite roadways, and insulation – there is Abundance around us!
For Earth Day this year, I’m buying a reusable water bottle and insulated coffee cup so I don’t use bottles or Starbucks cups anymore, thereby eliminating most of the plastic waste I generate.
My family and I are participating in the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by leading a cleanup team in Little Rocky Run, VA. Join me for the 30th Annual clean up on Saturday, April 14.
I consistently bring my own bags to the market and am sure to stash a canvas bag near the front door, in my computer bag, and in my purse. It’s easier to avoid plastic when reusable bags are readily available. I’ve been an avid public transportation enthusiast for the last year, and truly love how little I’m now behind the wheel of a car. On Earth Day, I will be joining a beach cleanup group on Alki Beach. See you there!
I’ve been participating in the Buy-Nothing Project for a few years, and in addition to meeting friends and neighbors through the project, we’ve also significantly cut down on packaging waste. I like to buy used because it saves money, reduces transport costs, cuts packaging waste, and keeps perfectly good items out of landfills.
In addition to addressing plastic consumption, I have been working to make the accounting and operations parts of our business as paper-free as possible. We encourage all our vendors to email their invoices, statements, purchase orders, etc. instead of mailing them. We encourage our clients to pay via electronic funds transfer instead of mailing us paper checks and to use e-sign software instead of mailing paper contracts back and forth. I started this effort back in 2012, and we’ve substantially reduced our paper storage footprint (and costs).
With three kids, we keep busy making lunches for school and preschool, so my family has switched to Planet Boxes and no longer use plastic bags or plastic containers. We also spend fewer hours cleaning containers and trying to match lids. My son has had his for three years now and it’s still good as new.
We are big on re-use at our house. We get creative whenever possible and find new ways to use old things so that instead of discarding, we repurpose! This year we decided it was time to add some rain barrels to our house to capture rain water. Run off is a major problem in our area, and now we are capturing about 70% of our roof run– we will use the captured water to feed our four garden plots and our bird baths. (We have at least 10 bird feeders, so needless to say, critters are welcome at our home). Growing our own vegetables doesn’t give us all we need, so we also participate in a local CSA program which means that from May to November, all of our produce is local. As for plastic – we’ve tried to eliminate it as much as possible. We use eco-glass dishes for to-go food and finally found great glass bottles for drinking water on the go. We even wash out plastic baggies and dry them on the dish rack whenever possible! Several years ago, we all but eliminated paper towels by purchasing a case of kitchen towels – its been a huge savings on many fronts. All in all, we try to live simply and make choices that ensure that our home planet is preserved and protected for future generations.
We’d love to know what you’ll be doing for Earth Day 2018! Be the change. Get started!