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Freedom -- from Plastic!

This summer is a great time to review, reup and REIMAGINE our recycling practices.

And a big part of that is reducing and reusing plastic.

You already know the problem -- 430 milion metric tons of plastic are produced every year, more than the total weight of all humans! And only 9% gets recycled.*  The rest goes to landfill or ends up in rivers, streams and the oceans.   Whether it floats or sinks, it gets eaten, entraps animals, clogs waterways, and degrades into microplastics that are found everywhere -- including in you, your family, your pets.   Most plastic takes hundreds of years to break down.   We must REDUCE and REUSE plastic.

If we REIMAGINE our lives, starting with fun things like picnics and bbq's, we can find easy ways to do i

Whether your family picnic is at home, at the park or at a concert, try to bring things that can be reused. Bring silverwear and cloth napkins. Use real paper plates. If you must use plastic -- and most of us do! -- plan to take it home, wash and reuse it.

Think about it -- almost every plastic plate, utensil and to-go container nowadays is strong enough to be washed and reused dozens of times.  Everytime you do reuse them, you reduce what's going to the landfill.   

How to do it? Just pack along some large reusable ziploc bags. Scrape excess food waste into a container, pack all your plates and utensils in ziplocs or box, and then wash them at home.

It sounds like a pain -- it is so much easier to just toss something away! -- but take a moment to REIMAGINE the process.  It wasn't that long ago -- 50 years? --  that people reused things all the time.  And you (hopefully) reuse things at home all the time too!

An easier option is to use real paper plates (not plastic). These will decompose if you compost them. And Chicago has several compost services and drop-off locations. Just put them in a paper bag with food waste.

What about "biodegradable" plastic? It usually only degrades in industrial composters -- like the City Drop-off locations.  But it won't decompose in your home compost or most pick-up services. And when it is put in the recycling with regular plastic, it just confuses the sorter!   Even dog poop in biodegradable plastic usually just ends up in the landfill, unfortunately.   So until we figure out effective biodegradable recycling processes, the best thing to do is REDUCE and REUSE.

If we all do this, it will make a difference! If we don't, we'll be swallowed up in plastic like these ducklings near 31st St. Beach. Something we'd all like to be freed from!

Wishing you a wonderful reimagined summer!

*according to the UN Environent Program

1photo by Don Sorsa Millennium Park on Flickr

2photo by on Flickr

3photo (can you find all 5 baby ducks in the plastic?)

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