The United States contains 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes about a quarter of the planet’s resources. Much of this consumption stems from our “throw away” lifestyle, whereby many products are used once and then thrown away. This started in the 1950s, when the plastics and chemical industries sold the American public on the convenience of single-use disposable items. In 2011, the average American produced 4.4 pounds of household garbage per day, twice as much as in 1960.
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.
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”.
Since I started my new role as Clean Water Action's ReThink Disposable Coordinator, I’ve been talking with many business owners and people in the community about the very exciting topic of waste, in particular, single-use disposables like plastic straws, cutlery and bags and foam take out containers. I’m happy to find shared values when it comes to wanting to prevent trash from entering our waterways and filling up our ocean.
Hello! My name is Kate Triggiano and I am the new Rethink Disposable Coordinator for Clean Water Action's ReThink Disposable program in New Jersey! Rethink Disposable's goal is to minimize the use of single use products: from shopping bags and food and beverage packaging, to plastic straws and water bottles. ReThink Disposable assists businesses by helping them reduce their dependency on single use disposables, while saving money through lower waste collection and supply costs.
Every day in the U.S., people use 500 million straws a day - enough to circle to planet more than two-and-a-half times! Straws are now one of the top 10 marine debris items found on our beaches. And by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.
So, what do we do about it?