Be the Solution for a Plastics Free Future
If not you, then who is going to break our dependence on single use plastics? Fortunately, individuals, the business community, city governments, and not for profits are assuming leadership.
However, more needs to be done. Let's explore what we all can do to reduce single-use plastics in our lives.
The Power of Collective Action
Historically, an explosion of collective action has been a powerful tool for addressing societal problems. The Victory Gardens Campaign is an example of collective action that helped solve the problem of hunger.
In recent years, the entertaining ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became the world’s largest social media phenomenon. More than 17 million people uploaded their videos. This collective action of seemingly frivolous activity resulted in the start of a movement to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Similarly, it’s time for us WiseTribers to lead the war on disposable plastics by collectively living a life of awareness of what a plastics-free future could look like.
The 5 R's Reducing Plastic Dependence
Personal responsibility begins with you and a committed effort to implement habits reduction in plastic use. Ninety percent of the plastic items are used once for a few seconds and then chucked. It is hard to comprehend that 20 billion items are tossed in the trash each year. We can wean ourselves off disposable plastics by following the five R's: REFUSE, REUSE, REMOVE, RECYCLE, & REIMAGINE.
Refuse: Refuse beverage tops and straws in restaurants, bars or cafes or bring your own reusable stainless, glass, or bamboo one. Skip the disposable razors; use reusable coffee filters. Choose cardboard bags and bottles instead of a plastic container.
Reuse: If you must use plastic, find creative ways to reuse it. By being disciplined we can all bring our own bags to the store, utensils to the office, or travel mugs, to Starbucks. It's just a matter of habit like brushing teeth and washing hands.
Remove: Pick up trash in your neighborhoods, parks and beaches, and downtown sidewalks. We can all be plastic warriors and set an example for others.
Recycle: Sadly, only 13% of plastic packaging is recycled. We have an obligation to choose the recycling container instead of the trash can. When possible, select plastics that are easiest to recycle.
Reimagine: What can we do with millions of tons of plastic? The WiseTribe Garden Gate program which repurposed plastic bottles as backyard vegetable gardens is one example. Waste plastic is also used to create art, make weather-proof furniture, manufacture clothing, and resurface deteriorating roadways. We can actively explore on the Internet and Pinterest how to reuse waste plastic.
What does a Plastic-free Future Look Like?
Individual responsibility is critical but insufficient without the reform that encourages less plastic use. Refillable water stations at airports, schools and fitness centers are becoming a notable trend. Locally, in Delray, the 505 Teen center has saved over 8000 bottles by installing a water filling station. To install one in your child’s school, call Flowater, which offers a fundraising program to help offset the costs. Many cities and not for profits like WeTap are taking action to encourage residents to drink tap water. New York City established Water -On-The Go, a public awareness campaign to install public drinking fountains.
Inspire Others to Take Action
As a multibillion dollar industry, single use plastics are here to stay unless we take intentional steps toward reducing our reliance. Imagine the collective impact if communities around the country boycotted the use of plastic. If we change our life styles we can motivate companies and institutions to create a healthier and more sustainable future.
Spreading the word on the devastating implications of plastic toxicity to our health and the environment should be an objective for all of us. Delray’s beaches are a civic treasure and if we want to keep them that way, we must internalize sustainable behavior and avoid littering our beaches with plastic waste.
How do we break the cycle of apathy and indifference to create a sense of caring for each other and our planet? Becoming a #1000WT is one way to get actionable tips on living a healthier, wiser life to act upon and model for others. Sharing your story of how you became aware with people you know is the start. Sharing it on social media carries the message even further. Use the hashtag #noplasticsdelray or #noplastics (your city name) and inspire a generation of WiseTribers with your stories for reducing plastics.
It's empowering to know that with a little discipline we all have the ability to join the battle against the tidal wave of plastic.