A friend forwarded me a website documenting what is happening to birds on a small island in the Pacific Ocean. As you may or may not know, there are vast wastelands in our ocean where life is disappearing, and when birds go looking for food, our remnants (garbage that drifts thousands of miles) are what they bring back to feed their young. Chris Jordan’s website provides a harsh reality as to the effects we have on our environment. If this is not a reason enough to take better care of our world, what is….?
I wanted to add some action items, as I believe just showing photos is only part of raising awareness. Here are a few things you can do:
* No plastic bags – when you shop for groceries, for clothes, anything. We all know there are a billion reusable bags out there for us all to keep in our cars, homes, handbags, etc. – no excuses. NOTE: apples do not have to be bagged or packaged separately, y’all, they can go in your grocery bag along with everything else. (Bring a reusable bag for wet produce if you’d like).
* No plastic bottles – if you can’t handle tap water, refill your Kleen Kanteen (unlike SIGG, no BPA in the lining) with filtered water and have several of those around. You think $20 is expensive? That’s 10 plastic bottles of water. And come on, we all know that Costco’s “Kirkland” water is not gathered gently from clear Alpine springs.
* Recycling what plastic you do have – in Portland, we can recycle anything that’s a ‘tub’ or has a ‘neck’, along with the newly added garden seedling pots. New Seasons chain of grocery stores also lets us recycle, along with the evil plastic bag, clamshell-type packages and lids. All other plastics (1-7) are taken at Far West Fibers in N and SE Portland.
* Think about packaging from the beginning. If it’s unnecessary and/or difficult to recycle, don’t buy it. Trader Joe’s packages much of their fruit in plastic clamshells. Don’t support this practice by buying that! A lot of milk cartons now come with plastic pourspouts – local Sunshine Dairy does not (and their milk is RBST-free). Think about it.
* Reuse other types of containers instead of plastic. New Seasons sells their organic olive oil and canola oil in bulk, saving me money, and allowing me to refill my beautiful glass bottles.
* Buy as large of a container of the product as you can if it is plastic – it’s usually a better deal $$ and you are using a lot less packaging.
* Do your homework. While Portland may seem like a recycling mecca compared to much of the country, it all started somewhere. Go online to find out where your recycling dropoff centers are that may take more than what’s available at curbside. If your community god forbid doesn’t have curbside recycling pickup, then get together with your neighbors to collect everyone’s recycling to do a weekly or biweekly delivery (my friend in Ohio started this up in her apartment complex). There are a LOT of recycling options out there (not just for plastic – I went onto our community’s website and found a link to all the different types of items that can be recycled, where to take them, and even their hours of operation!).
* Think about the little things. I have a ‘recycling center’ bag for things I can’t put curbside and it really amazes me, still, how much plastic there is. Prescription bottles. Contact lens cases (and those little things they come in when you order them). Plastic wrap on magazines. Clamshells from salad bars, leftovers, etc. Plastic silverware. I could go on for miles…
Every step towards greater environmental responsibility is a positive one. Start small if you need to and keep adding to your eco habits. Support others in their efforts and teach those around you how they can make a difference.