Eco-Cycle (Boulder County’s public recycling service) has alerted us to a world-wide challenge to stop producing plastic waste, which is causing so many problems with our environment and with Life on earth, including human health.
Started in Australia, PlasticFreeJuly.org has challenged the world. In 2020 the challenge attracted 326 million people from 177 countries. Sign up at their website to get weekly emails during July about how to participate.
Here in Colorado, Eco-Cycle has created its own program and offers weekly information and plans for participation. See Eco-Cycle’s “How to Quit Plastics” workbook, and see their lists of common plastic items and alternatives.
Plastics take 400-1000 years to break down. Only 9% of all plastics ever produced have been recycled. Plastic is among the most energy-intensive materials to produce.
UPSTREAM COSTS include the energy and pollution used in drilling, refining, and delivering gas and oil used to produce plastics, plus the energy and pollution used in manufacturing plastics.
DOWNSTREAM IMPACTS begin when we wash and machine-dry plastic-derived fabrics, such as synthetic ‘fleece’, polyester, nylon, acetate, and others. And when we finish using plastic bags and other plastic products and discard them. They don’t biodegrade, but they do photodegrade to produce “microplastics”. These tiny plastic particles are filling our oceans, our air, water, our food, and they are accumulating in our bodies. This is resulting in health problems for the environment, animals, and humans. These particles are even in our drinking water.
HARLEQUIN’S GARDENS has for years offered composts and mulches in reusable plastic bags for which we charge a $1 deposit that we refund when the bags are returned. We also encourage returns of nursery pots and either reuse them or take the ones we can’t reuse to Eco-Cycle for recycling. See how you can recycle these items at Harlequin’s Gardens! During our annual Holiday Gift Market (this year during the month of October), you’ll find locally crafted products made from natural materials that replace and improve upon household plastic products.
THE CITY OF BOULDER began a program in 2012 charging 10 cents for each disposable bag distributed at grocery stores, which reduced plastic bag waste very quickly. Governor Jared Polis recently signed a state-wide law banning the use of single-use plastic bags. Bag fees will begin in 2023 and the ban goes into effect in 2024.
TOGETHER, let’s take a look at the plastics we are using and throwing away (where is ‘away’?) and find alternative solutions. In our lifetimes, let us make real progress to save the health of Life on Earth.