A Whole Year Without Plastic?!

A Whole Year Without Plastic?!

I posted a few days ago about my new haircut, which I inadvertently made as a New Year’s resolution I guess. So, bring on 2014. I already knocked out and completed my goal for 2013! Kidding. I didn’t want to come up with some standard resolutions that everyone does, even though they still exist on the bottom … Read more

I posted a few days ago about my new haircut, which I inadvertently made as a New Year’s resolution I guess. So, bring on 2014. I already knocked out and completed my goal for 2013! Kidding. I didn’t want to come up with some standard resolutions that everyone does, even though they still exist on the bottom of my list, but my top resolution is a rather lofty and impactful goal.

2013 Resolution: Rise Above Plastics. Attempt to go a whole year without using, or significantly reducing my plastic footprint.

I was very inspired by this after I attended the East Coast Chapter Summit with the Surfrider Foundation, and really hope to follow through on cutting out as much plastic as possible. The facts are pretty evident I quickly found out, and in many parts of our oceans there exists this sort of plasticy soup, a gyre as it’s called. According to the organization Rise Above Plastics, plastic is all around us. It’s in our homes, our offices, our vehicles, our yards and our playgrounds. We use it to package food, bottle products, bag produce, make dinnerware and utensils, make toys and more.

Plastics have undoubtedly helped us to manufacture, package and ship goods more easily, for less money, and in some cases, more safely than ever before. But, plastics pose a significant threat to our planet as well. Part of the problem is plastic itself. The very qualities that make it an adaptable and durable product to use, also make plastic an environmental nightmare. You see, plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they photodegrade – breaking down under exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, into smaller and smaller pieces.

The bottom line is that with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated, virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.

The Rise Above Plastic’s mission is simple: to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. I encourage you to follow ‘RAP’ on Facebook and Twitter, and be a leader and advocate for change. “Ban the Bag” from your city if you are so empowered to do so.

Some other easy things you can do to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment are choosing to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water; refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics; reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons; bring your to-go mug with you; and recycle! If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates. Wish me luck!

For more ‘green’ resolutions, check out this post.

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

The Game Day Challenge: Attempting to Go Zero-Waste

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One of the university groups I am involved with at Mount Union is the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee (SMAC). Part of my role within this group is to help assist in the decision making process of socially and environmentally sound opportunities to create a sustainable atmosphere for students. I have helped promote awareness for sustainability on campus by doing some marketing in the library and writing green facts in The Dynamo (our school’s weekly newspaper). One project this year is the Game Day Challenge, which will be held at our last home football game of the year against Baldwin-Wallace.

The Game Day Challenge is a groundbreaking event for sustainability on the campus of Mount Union. Mount Union Stadium will host the first ever near-zero waste event. Universities nation wide sign up for this event to measure and report recycling, composting, reuse, donation and trash disposal in pounds at sporting events. The EPA will recognize all Game Day Challenge participants in December of 2011 and present awards in the following five categories: waste generation, diversion rate, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling and organics reduction. Several of these categories are measured by taking the pounds of waste and dividing it by the total attendance, leaving a rate of per capita waste generation. The colleges and universities with the highest rates will be presented with awards. Basically, much of the trash generated at the game will no longer just go to a landfill.

At the game, there will be several stations set up where fans will be engaged an educated on where to properly dispose of concessions and refreshments. Recycling will still be taken to the schools municipality, the organics will be composted at our school’s Nature Center and the waste that cannot be handled will have to go to a landfill. One part that I am really excited about is how we will recycle our chip bags and candy bar wrappers. We will be putting different collection bins out for these and sending them to TerraCycle, where I interned this past summer, and they will be turned into eco-products. This is just another big step Mount Union is taking to become a more environmentally sound campus. Come out and cheer on a Purple Raider win, but also do your part to help a win for the environment!