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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive change… taking root.
They do have a place in the modern world but just as lead poisoned the Romans, plastics of all kinds are toxic to every living thing. Widespread for less than 50 years, we toss over 30 million TONS of plastic waste, including bags, bottles, packaging for food, and countless other products, into the ground each year. Made from oil and designed not to decay for up to 1000 years, plastics are a major cause of climate change, decomposing into poisonous molecular bits, affecting soil, water and air. And at sea, the UN estimates there are 46,000 pieces of plastic waste in every square mile of ocean. Swirling plastic gyres that dwarf Texas, daily strangle, starve and poison millions of creatures that supportsea life. On land, plastics slow-poison our food chain.
Plastic additives like BPA and phthalates are linked to health issues like obesity, cancer and heart disease. Research shows these oil based polymer chains, now found in 92% of us, also disrupt endocrine and auto immune systems and cause diabetes and infertility. They find their way into our bodies, especially when heated with food.
Consumers often get discouraged by the magnitude of the problem, not knowing where to start. But Erich Bussian, a Durango, CO entrepreneur, was well aware of the massive impact of plastic pollution and waste and jumped into the fray. He rallied for awareness and support through letters to the editor, email blasts and radio spots, also supplying his City council with undeniable facts about plastic bags.
Bussian: Plastic just seemed to be an issue where we could really make a difference by impacting everybody because everybody shops. I’m hoping that this action will actually motivate other people to say ya, well maybe we really look at water bottles and coke bottles and all the other stuff that lasts forever although it only holds something maybe for a few minutes.
Just like a health advocate learns to food fast, one concerned citizen, Beth Terry from Oakland, CA, changed her life by learning to plastic fast. A CPA by day, her blog, myplasticfreelife.com and book, Plastic Free, describe how she kicked the plastic habit, setting an example for others.
Terry: I decided to start with plastic shopping bags. And so I got some reusable bags. That was the thing I knew I could cut out of my life entirely right off the bat. I realized I didn’t need to take produce bags any more and that if my apples and oranges touched each other in the bag, it wasn’t going to make any difference. And then the second thing that I decided was that I was going to stop buying any bottled water, in fact any bottled beverages. And so I got a stainless steel water bottle. It was really a matter of looking at my plastic waste each week and seeing what those things were that I was accumulating on a regular basis and what the next step would be.
Terry reminds us of other simple ways to reduce the plastic in ourlives.
Terry: I decided that I wasn’t going to take any more disposable plastic food-ware, so I got a little bamboo utensil set that I carry in my purse all the time, just in case. I also got a stainless steel travel mug so I would never need to take another disposable cup. And I also started carrying a stainless steel container with me whenever I would go to restaurants in case I had leftovers, so I wouldn’t have to take styrofoam. And sometimes I would go to restaurants for take out and ask them to actually put my food right directly into my stainless steel container. And them the next thing was I decided I wasn’t gonna buy any more foods that were packaged in plastic. And that was harder and that was more of a step-by-step process.
Democracy happens when advocates and opponents alike…push the ‘eco-freedom button.’
Bussian: Ya, we want freedom but we’re also responsible for our environment. We take freedom absolutely as an important American right. The responsibility side is equally important.
Terry: When I learned about the problems with plastic, I got angry at first. And then I realized that I was actually part of the problem and my choices and my lifestyle was what was contributing to it. And I looked at myself and thought how can I change to be part of the solution. To know that I have choices and to make the right choices makes me feel happy.
Products packaged in recyclable glass, metal, and paper exist as options to plastic. Please visit us at gooddirtradio.org for more about how youcan reduce the plastic in your world.
I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels. Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up good news…. for a change.