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“Out and About” Plastic waste and what to do

“A single rose can be my garden…a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
In the movie “The Graduate”, Dustin Hoffman was given a word to remember. It was a word that was supposed to be the answer to being successful. It was the word that promised to lead to the ultimate successes in the business world. That word was “Plastic”. Plastic seemed to be the word that would lead us into the future. No more glass containers, no more paper grocery sacks. “Paper or Plastic” was the offering at the grocery check-out lines. Plastic was easier to deal with. Little did we know that a few years later, plastic would lead us to “Doomsday”. Plastic is made from oil and oil is a precious commodity and it’s getting harder and harder to come by in this day and age. Gone are the days when a gallon of gasoline cost 39 cents a gallon.
Plastic is one of the most widely used and cheapest materials in our world today. It seems that if it’s not made from plastic, it’s wrapped in plastic. Worldwide we use approximately five trillion plastic bags a year. Here in the United States, we throw away enough plastic bottles in a week to encircle the world five times. Most of us recycle, but only one to three percent of all plastics used are recycled. It seems we use them and just throw them away.
Here are five plastic waste facts that might surprise you. Hopefully, they might scare you a little:
• In the North Pacific Ocean, there are six times more plastic debris than plankton. This discarded plastic debris is causing deaths to our marine animals, because they are being mistaken for food.
• Ten percent of the plastic we use annually ends up in the ocean. That is equal to seven billion plastic bottles.
• Recycling one ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1000 to 2000 gallons of gasoline. One ton of plastic is around 25,000 plastic bottles.
• The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world’s oil production. Plastic is made from petroleum.
• Some of the components used to make plastic like phthalates and bisphenol A are harmful to our health.
How do plastic bags end up in our oceans and other waterways? Mostly, we can thank the wind, because plastic bags are so lightweight and aerodynamic, that even if we properly dispose of them, they can still escape with the wind. They escape from our trash containers, garbage trucks and the landfills. They go wherever the wind takes them. As a result, they pollute our environment and kill birds and animals. Animals have a tendency to mistake the plastic for food and end up dying.
By now you are probably asking yourself, “What can I do about this problem?” You might start with recycling more and take your own non-plastic container with you when you visit the grocery store.
We don’t need to look far to witness climate change. We’ve been advised to do something about it. I think it’s time to listen more carefully and give some serious thought about doing something about saving our earth. It’s the only earth we have.
He’s the boy the gals forgot. His line was smooth, his chin was not. – BURMA SHAVE
See you Out and About!
Norm Stutesman lives in Three Rivers. He receives mail at P.O. Box 103 in Three Rivers.

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