Internet challenges come and go, and generally I don’t pay much attention to them. This week, however, I began to see pictures of people posing with bags full of trash they had collected pop up all over social media. It seems the #trashtag challenge has taken off across the globe, bringing a ton of attention to a problem that has plagued us for decades, ever since the advent of our convenient, throwaway lifestyle.
In our efforts to reduce waste, we have often heard people say that the “real” problem is the people who throw their garbage on the sidewalk and out their car windows. Of course, we agree that we should change this behavior, but the truth is that littering is not the real problem. We need to change the entire system because the plastic trash that floats in the world's oceans actually decompose and release potentially toxic substances into the water.
With Americans' busy lifestyles, often the last thing on people's minds is how much garbage they produce. Few people realize the immense impacts their every day actions have on the environment, particularly marine life.
Single-use products are the main source of trash in our waters. When this garbage is disposed of improperly, it ends up in our stormwater and sewer systems, and ultimately our oceans, which has a devastating impact on marine life. In addition, the manufacturing of plastic products produces enormous amounts of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
The answer on whether to choose paper or plastic is neither. The best environmentally friendly solution is to avoid single-use items altogether in favor of reusables.
The ReThink Disposable team has been hard at work encouraging businesses to reduce their use of plastic straws. One of our greatest lessons learned these past few months is that every voice counts. This Spring, not only did we speak with business owners, we partnered up with local fifth grade students eager to spread the word to help save marine life.
Governments and municipalities all over the world are proposing bans on single-use plastic straws, from the U.K. to Monmouth Beach, New Jersey! Here in New Jersey, ReThink Disposable is excited to highlight restaurants who have changed their own policies on serving plastic straws in order to address the issues of plastic pollution in our oceans.
The number of plastic disposables produced has risen from 2 million tons to 380 million tons between 1950 and 2015, half of which has been produced within the last 13 years (The Ocean Conservancy). However, making small changes in our daily lifestyles can reduce our use of plastics.
If you have read the news recently, you have probably seen an article or two about a recent study of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
Here in New Jersey, we love our local restaurants and shops. Let’s take a minute and appreciate them just a little more because they are helping Clean Water Action take on a huge environmental issue: single-use disposables.