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Earth Day Easy Swaps

Janis Covey

Earth Day is here, and it’s wonderful to celebrate Mother Earth, but as we all know, we need to start celebrating her every day by cleaning up our surroundings.  I’m sure you've heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is a floating island of trash that is twice the size of Texas and continues to get bigger every day.  Here are some simple ways you can reduce your plastic waste.

Plastic Straws:  Single-use plastic straws are extremely harmful for the environment.  They can take up to 200 years to decompose and can injure wildlife.  When eating out, request no straw or bring a reusable one.

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Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles:  Only about 23 percent of plastic water bottles are actually recycled.  Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles last year so ultimately 38 billion water bottles ended up in landfills.  It takes up to 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose.  So, pass on the single-use plastic water bottle and use a refillable one instead.  Bonus points if it’s metal or glass.

 

 

Balloons:  I know that balloons are colorful and decorative in celebrating special occasions, but these short-lived decorations have a huge negative impact on our environment.  Latex balloons biodegrade, however, it can take six months to four years for this to occur.  In that time, they pose a huge health risk to wildlife.  Animals mistake balloons for food and ingest them.  Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish and birds have been found to have balloons in their stomachs which can cause entanglement.

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Plastic bags:  Plastic grocery bags and zip-lock bags may be convenient, but they are major contributors to landfills and pollution.  It is estimated that 500 billion are used around the world each year.  As plastic bags break down, they slowly release toxic chemicals into the soil.  They are also a major threat to wildlife.  Animals eat and can choke on them, and they can become lodged in their digestive systems. Use reusable bags, or if only buying one item, refuse the plastic bag.  For zip-lock bags, opt for reusable metal or glass containers.

Any other easy swaps?  Let us know in the comments.