Category Archives: Plastic

“Recycling is supposed to be the last resort” – Why our recycling system is broken

by Paige Vermeulen, West Chester Green Team, 7/6/19

The US Recycling System Is Garbage (Sierra Magazine, 6/26/19, by Edward Humes) details the many issues in the US’s current recycling system. Most of what you put in the bin doesn’t actually get recycled, and recycling is now coming as a cost to our economy – and it’s all because China stopped accepting our dirty plastics.

Since about 1992, the US has been selling our plastic waste to Asia, namely China, because it is easier and less costly than processing it here. Then, the plastic would be processed under lax environmental conditions, along with much of it being dumped into rivers.

Prior to this offshoring, the US actually had a fairly healthy recycling system. In the ’70s and ’80s, US consumers would clean their recyclables and separate the materials. After we started shipping away this waste, the system deteriorated, as we no longer had to deal with the problem. Nowadays, consumers will throw anything into the recycling bin – from dirty food containers to old furniture. …

read more at West Chester Green Team,

June 27: “Plastic Crisis – How a Shopping Bag Can End Up in Your Food & What We Can Do About It!”

Thursday June 27, 2019 at 7:00 pm: “Plastic Crisis – How a Shopping Bag Can End Up in Your Food & What We Can Do About It!”

Thursday June 27, 2019 at 7:00 pm, in Room 101, West Chester University Business and Public Management Center, 50 Sharpless St., West Chester 19382. Park if needed across the street in Sharpless Parking Garage. All welcome.

Sponsored by Plastics-Free Please Action Group and West Chester Green Team.

The growing plastic waste that we produce daily is becoming a real threat to our environment and civilization. We will learn how plastic can affect our body, what West Chester is doing to reduce the usage of plastic in the Borough and what changes you can make in your daily life to reduce plastics.

Doors open at 6:30 so come then for environmental and community group exhibits. No refreshments but you can fill up your refillable water bottles. Program starts at 7 p.m.

1) The Impact of Plastics on our Environment and our Bodies, by Carol Armstrong, PhD, Expert in Watershed Restoration, Master Watershed Steward with Penn Extension, Neuropsychologist

2) Update on Efforts to Ban Plastic Bags and Straws in the West Chester Area

3) Tips and Ideas on How You Can Reduce Plastic in Your Daily Life

4) Q&A

More info about the program: cit331@gmail.com

Maryland becomes the second state to ban plastic foam containers

US PIRG, May 24, 2019

In less than a month, Maryland joins Maine in passing historic legislation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s statewide ban on polystyrene foam cups and containers will officially go into law without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature. In March, Maryland became the first state in the country to pass a foam ban through its state legislature. Following Maine’s lead earlier this month, Maryland is now the second state to have a foam ban on the books.

Polystyrene foam — commonly referred to as Styrofoam — is one of the most common and hazardous forms of single-use plastic. Less than 3 percent of it is recycled, and once in landfills or the natural environment, it persists for hundreds of years.

In a single year, Americans throw out 25 billion polystyrene foam cups, part of the 8 million tons of plastic dumped in waterways every year. A recent study found that of all the polystyrene and other plastics ever made, 79 percent currently exist in landfills or in rivers, lakes and oceans. …

read more and see links at US PIRG. And how about it, Pennsylvania?

What is Earth Day, and what is it meant to accomplish?

by Kathleen Rogers, president, Earth Day Network

On April 22, 1970, millions of people took to the streets to protest the negative impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

In the U.S. and around the world, smog was becoming deadly and evidence was growing that pollution led to developmental delays in children. Biodiversity was in decline as a result of the heavy use of pesticides and other pollutants.

The global ecological awareness was growing, and the US Congress and President Nixon responded quickly. In July of the same year, they created the Environmental Protection Agency, and robust environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, among many.

One billion people

Earth Day is now a global event each year, and we believe that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries now take part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

It is a day of political action and civic participation. People march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, plant trees, clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and governments use it to make pledges and announce sustainability measures. Faith leaders, including Pope Francis, connect Earth Day with protecting God’s greatest creations, humans, biodiversity and the planet that we all live on.

Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, has chosen as the theme for 2018 to End Plastic Pollution, including creating support for a global effort to eliminate primarily single-use plastics along with global regulation for the disposal of plastics. EDN is educating millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that plastic waste is creating serious global problems.

From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival….

read more at Earth Day Network

A Paddleboarder’s Quest for Cleaner Water

by Wendy Backtold, Sierra magazine, 3/5/19 [what one person can do, and inspire others to do!]

Lizzie Carr goes the extra mile to get rid of plastic pollution

In 2013, Lizzie Carr was working at a creative agency in London and living what she calls a fairly normal life. Then she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had just turned 26. After an emergency thyroidectomy and radiotherapy, Carr went to her father’s house on the Isles of Scilly, off the UK’s southwest coast, to recuperate. There, she tried paddleboarding, hoping to regain her strength. Out on the water, she says, she experienced an unexpected peace of mind. She was hooked.

When she recovered, Carr found herself craving a larger purpose. Back in London, she took to the city’s many waterways to figure things out. As she paddled, she was disturbed by the ubiquitous plastic trash she encountered, and she could see the impact it was having on wildlife. (Once, she saw a bird’s nest made entirely of plastic.) Other people, she decided, needed to be aware of it too.

In May 2016, Carr loaded a borrowed board with camping gear and set off to paddle the length of England (400 miles) by river and canal. For 22 days, she photographed every piece of plastic she saw⎯mostly bottles, bags, and wrappers⎯then geotagged it and charted it on an online map. She picked up what she could.

Carr shared the images on social media, and several news outlets carried the story. She attracted a following of people eager to get involved. That summer, she organized paddleboarding cleanups in areas where she’d found high concentrations of trash. About 250 people participated; since then, about 1,000 more have taken part in her plastic patrols….

keep reading at Sierra magazine

Living plastic-free: One activist fights a rising tide of pollution

By James Rainey, NBC News, Feb. 16, 2019

From her front stoop to coffee shops, dry cleaners and markets, activist Dianna Cohen is fighting to rid her life, and the world, of plastics.

LOS ANGELES — Dianna Cohen is on alert. From the newspaper on her front stoop each morning, to the clothes she will pick up at the dry cleaner, to the lunch she’ll eat, to the shelves at her seemingly eco-friendly health food store — Cohen’s nemesis appears everywhere.

The world seems to be wrapped in plastic — and Cohen is not buying it. She is fighting to lead a life free of plastics, and to get others to do the same.

The Los Angeles native has taken her campaign against plastic waste — an annoyance of her youth and later the medium of her work as a visual artist — and made it her life’s cause.

She co-founded the Plastic Pollution Coalition a decade ago, to bind together environmental groups trying to reduce the amount of plastic that goes into landfills and streets and then into streams, rivers and oceans. Her crusade includes changing consumer behavior — beginning with her own — in an effort to not only reduce waste today, but also to get companies to offer more products in reusable containers in order to slow the waste of the future….

read more at NBC News

Against single-use plastic bags

from Sierra Club., Mass. chapter:

“Regulating the Use of Plastic Checkout Bags:
Background information on laws and bylaws proposing a ban on checkout bags.”

Download pdf here: plastic_bags_massachusetts_2018

Noteworthy quotes:

“…the environmental expense of plastic bags far exceeds the cost retailers are currently paying to provide them….”

“The over 100 billion plastic shopping bags used each year in the United States are made from the estimated equivalent of 439 million gallons of oil….”