As I have mentioned before, I am a firm believer that part of living wellthy includes doing our part to take care of our environment and natural resources. After all, it’s very difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle while breathing in smog and drinking contaminated water! So on the first of every month (or a day early this time around-my internet access might be limited for a while), I am going to post an environmentally friendly challenge for myself to follow. Then, on the first day of the next month, I will let you know how I did in addition to posting my next challenge. If anyone would like to give it a try with me, that would be awesome. If you have your own ideas for how to reduce, reuse or recycle, the rest of us would love to hear them!
I’m starting simple with my first challenge-I want to eliminate plastic shopping bags from my life! I own several reusable bags, and I will attempt to use them on all shopping trips-whether for groceries, clothes, or other goodies. I was starting to do this back when we were in Illinois, but I admit I would slack off occasionally. Here are a few facts from the Clean Air Council that convinced me I need to buckle down and get serious:
- During 2009’s International Coastal Cleanup, the Ocean Conservancy found that plastic bags were the second-most common kind of waste found, at 1 out of ten items picked up and tallied.
- After Ireland created a 15-cent charge per plastic bag in 2002, bag consumption dropped by 90 percent. In 2008, the average person in Ireland used 27 plastic bags, while the average person in Britain used 220. The program has raised millions of euros in revenue.
- The state of California spends about 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfill each year, and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from streets.
- Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.
- Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.
- Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year. Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32
- When the small particles from photodegraded plastic bags get into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain, including up to humans.
- The City of San Francisco determined that it costs 17 cents for them to handle each discarded bag.
If there is anyone who is willing to try this with me, here are some tips from when I have attempted this in the past. Once you unpack your groceries, put the reusable bags back in the trunk of your car. This way, you won’t get to the store and realize you left the bags in your kitchen. It doesn’t matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t edit my leaving-the-house check to include “keys, wallet, phone, reusable bags”. Second, if you do find yourself without your reusable bags, or all of your goodies just won’t fit in the ones you have, save those plastic bags! All is not lost-many grocery stores have recycling containers when you enter the store just for those plastic bags.
What do you all think? Does anyone do this already?