Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reducing Plastic!

by Angela Yannessa

Reducing Plastic Use Around the World
New technologies have brought great advancements to all aspects of life, allowing us to live with great conveniences. Shopping and contacting friends can be done with the click of a button, and we are constantly connected with the world around us. Though we are connected, are we conscious of our behaviors influence on the world? The summer months bring many of us to the beach, a beautiful place that in many places is becoming overrun by litter, and a major culprit is plastic trash. Items such as these cause many problems to our eco-systems, outweighing the convenience factor they may bring us.

Plastic Bag Bans 
San Francisco was the first to ban plastic bags in 2007. Cities following close behind include Portland, OR, Outer Banks, NC, Seattle, WA, and Aspen, HI. Each of these cases represents a big, positive step, but even though they are called a "ban" does not mean plastic bags are not used in the whole city. Rules apply mostly just to larger stores rather than all shops outright. There are ways around the ban, and also a limited number of cities have been successful in passing a ban.
Ban Plastic Bags

Does your city have a bag ban?

Bottles, Cans, and More
Water bottle deposits in the form of reverse vending machines have also been cropping up in an effort to get more people recycling and be able to personally benefit from it as well. Placing your bottles or cans inside will get you a refund on the bottle deposits you may of made.

We really need to consider the necessity of using single use plastics prior to purchasing.  In addition to considering the environment here, consider your wallet! Water bottles on average cost 1000 times more than tap water, and less regulated for cleanliness than water flowing from taps. It has also been found that the water going into those bottles is just coming from taps as well.
Other initiatives across the country, and even across the globe includes examining use of plastic utensils, water bottles, and straws. GlassDharma's friend Milo Cress started Be Straw Free urging restaurants to only provide a straw in a beverage when it is specifically asked for. The 1:1 Movement's sustainability mission focuses on educating everyone, students, teachers, business owners, and more about solutions everyone can take part in.  Both organizations continue to publicize the need for change when it comes to our "disposable" choices and habits.

Reusable lunch-ware instead of
single use containers.
Each of these causes has garnered a great amount of support from various communities. Resistance really comes as a matter of convenience, not having to remember to BYO bags to the store, or mug to the cafe. Cloth bags, reusable water bottles, and coffee tumblers are durable, washable, and great for the planet! Some plastics are biodegradable though waste facilities in different states and counties have various rules depending on whether or not the substances will degrade there. Otherwise, bags and other plastics often fly or roll away in the wind, ending up in parks, oceans, and the bellies of animals just looking for their dinner.

It is interesting to us at GlassDharma as we hear from many of our fans across the oceans that these ideas are not new to them. The reverse vending machines have been around for a long time in the Netherlands and in Germany. Reuseable items are seen as more practical in many other countries because they have many more uses than a "disposable" bag made of plastic.

As awareness travels to different regions, with innovation in the hands of so many, the momentum behind solutions increases. Living in a global age we can appreciate the quick exchange of ideas and ability to collaborate from thousands of miles away. Many sustainability movements already exist because of this very reason, and the possibilities for the future are bright and boundless.

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