This Earth Week's Wisdom Wednesday, we will be talking plastic and its effects on our planet.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Plastic soda bottles littering the gutters, a grocery bag blowing in the wind, a piece of a car bumper laying in the road. It’s hard to ignore the fact that plastic isn’t contained, and is becoming a lasting environmental issue. Plastic is extremely durable, and it doesn't degrade for hundreds of years. Because this material doesn't disintegrate, it has to be found somewhere in our environment. All you have to do is look at the plastic floating in the ocean, washed up on shores, and filling our landfills to realize the impact of it. If plastic doesn’t go away and we keep adding more to what we already have, the issue is going to mount and impact our planet for the worse.

Awareness, Action, and Education are very important for us to be a part of the solution.

Here are some tidbits to bring awareness:

    Americans throw away an average of 185 pounds of plastic a year and part of that is in the half billion plastic straws used every day in the US alone. Globally, trillions of plastic bags are used worldwide, with most being used just once.


      It’s estimated that 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped in the ocean each year, and a lot of that is plastic. One million Sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are being poisoned by the chemicals in plastics, and by suffocating when they ingest the material.
        The same harsh chemicals that kill animals, such as BPA (Bisphenol A), are  contaminating groundwater and being absorbed by the human body. Studies have shown that 93% of Americans have BPA in their urine; which along with other plastic chemicals like phthalates, are found to damage or interact with hormones.

          Plastic pollution can seem like a hopeless issue. However, if all of us start doing little things and encouraging those around us to do the same; we can make an impact.

          What you can do:

            One of the biggest things one can do, is to use reusable grocery bags and encourage your state to work on minimizing their use. Many countries around the world have already banned or put a tax on the use of plastic shopping bags. Denmark started taxing retailers, in 2003, for handing out plastic bags; so stores started charging for them. This push to use reusable bags saved about 66% of plastic and paper bags. Ireland did something similar, leading to 90% of consumers using reusable bags. The taxes collected went into their Environment Fund. Both Italy and Brazil have banned the use of plastic bags; and many other countries are also doing their part to help reduce their use.
              Refuse single serving packages, straws, or disposable cutlery. Instead pack your own reusable utensils or straws for restaurants, picnics, etc. Also bring reusable water bottles with you everywhere; and buy sandwich containers that you can continue to use over and over.
                Recycle what plastic you can and encourage your favorite product manufactures to put their product in plastic that is easy to recycle. Stop buying things in plastics numbers 3, 4, 5, and 7. Encourage manufacturers to use less packaging (does a case of toilet paper really need to be wrapped in plastic within plastic?) Recycled plastic can be used to make things like trash cans, park benches, kayaks, playground equipment, etc.

                  It's time to start treating plastic as something to be reused, not a disposable commodity that we throw away.

                  Plastic is an important part of our world and used to make everything from appliances to life-saving medical devices. It would be impossible in this day to not use plastic in some form or another. Completely getting rid of it is not the long term solution to its overabundance in our oceans and wild lands. We have to all become more informed and learn to be less wasteful and honestly address our addiction to fast and easy consumerism. If we keep buying things in plastic that isn’t recyclable and using plastic items that really aren’t that necessary (bottled water, straws), there will always be a demand. If we don’t increase the use of biodegradable and recyclable plastics; and reusable items, then our plastic pollution will increase.

                  We must recognize that all things come full circle and will affect us in some way. That plastic bottle will sink deeper and deeper into the soil, emitting its chemicals into our water; and that plastic trash bag may blow off the trash truck and end up in the stomach of a Sea Turtle far away.

                  All actions create a ripple, affecting something or someone else. Decide what is possible in your own life and do it for your well-being, the well-being of others, and for beautiful Mother Earth.

                  Like the River: "Be thoughtful of those downstream."