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.

November 15th – America Recycles Day

November 15th – America Recycles Day

Thursday, November 15 marks the celebratory day of recycling, where the goal is to better educate all Americans about the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. America Recycles Day is celebrated with local events, pledge contests and prize drawings that drive home the point that we will all do more and be better about recycling in the … Read more


Thursday, November 15 marks the celebratory day of recycling, where the goal is to better educate all Americans about the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. America Recycles Day is celebrated with local events, pledge contests and prize drawings that drive home the point that we will all do more and be better about recycling in the coming year. The national recycling rate has increased every year since 1980, and is currently 34%…lets help improve that on campus! The Sustainability Committee will be hosting several events and games, so be on the lookout! Prizes will be awarded.

Find an event near you. (Enter your zip code under Attend an Event to find a local celebration.) Or, check out a list of events near Alliance.

Take the pledge to recycle more this year. (and be entered into a drawing for fabulous prizes).

I recently went to a conference and heard the organization 5 Gyres speak. Its vision is to witness plastic pollution decline in the environment until it is no longer found in the world’s oceans. The video is of a research team that went to investigate the Great Lakes, and they found the same results in the ocean – tons of plastic infested waters.

Take a look around you- most of what we eat, drink or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic, a material designed to last forever, yet used for products that we then throw away. This throwaway mentality is a relatively recent phenomenon. Just a generation ago, we packaged our products in reusable or recyclable materials (glass, metals and paper) and designed products that would last. Today, our landfills and beaches are awash in plastic packaging and expendable products that have no value at the end of their short lifecycle.

The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods and much of it remains “unaccounted for,” lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.

Just think…there are 350 million-square-kilometers of ocean, and 73 million pounds of plastic. Take a look at this “plastic soup,” and maybe you will avoid using single stream plastic, or just recycle a little bit more.