Ocean Conservancy Makes it Easy to Start Your Own Cleanup Action

Summer is almost here and with some good weather ahead, it's a great time to get involved and help reduce plastic pollution in our waterways. Don't forget to reduce your single-use plastic usage too!!
Every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup®, hundreds of thousands of volunteers comb lakes, rivers and beaches around the world for trash. For over three decades, they've coordinated more than 12 million volunteers, who have collected over 220 million pounds of trash. 

Join the wave. Next time you’re headed out to the beach or a nearby park, download Ocean Conservancy’s app, Clean Swell and take along a trash bag to collect and document the debris you find.

Here’s everything you’ll need to plan your own cleanup:

Source: https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/start-a-cleanup/

Electronic Plastic Waste

It is estimated that 400 million personal computers are made every year.  Although this sounds like a great thing because many more people are gaining access to this technology, this, however, is causing a major ecological problem. Majority of computers and computer peripherals such as keyboards and mice are made from plastic, and those computers typically have a lifespan of 5-10 years and are discarded because the technology gets outdated. In addition to the plastic waste, a lot of heavy metals end up in the landfills.  In the United States, an estimated 70% of heavy metals in landfills comes from discarded electronics. 

To help solve this problem, there are companies that are making keyboards and mouses from bamboo. Tonggu Jiangqiao Bamboo & Wood Industry Company annually manufactures 5 million sets of computer peripherals and 400,000 square meters of bamboo floorboards.


Students' Ice Pops Bring Plastic Pollution to (Unappetizing) Life | National Geographic

Ice pops usually look delicious, but these are completely inedible. Give one a lick and you might taste a plastic pollutant or oozing trash.
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Are boxed cartons the new plastic bottles?

Photo by Raymond Francisco on Unsplash

Like most Americans, when I’m on the go and need a quick beverage most of the time I opt for some type of beverage in a plastic bottle. Usually these bottles end up in the recycling bin but they can also end up in landfills. That’s a lot of plastic bottles being tossed every day considering on average each individual consumes 167 plastic bottled waters a year, and that’s only for water. Is there a way to reduce that number other than forgoing store-bought beverages all-together?

Luckily, a new trend that has started becoming more widespread is the boxed, or carton beverage. It’s similar to the cartons of milk that most of us are familiar with from when we were in school. One company making way in the carton trend is Boxed Water. Boxed Water has increasingly become more popular and has been arriving in multiple grocery stores. 

Unlike a lot of the plastic beverage bottles out there, whereas the hard plastic lid is not recyclable, boxed water is fully recyclable and 76 percent of the carton is made with paper from certified, sustainably managed forests. Although the Boxed Water carton is not 100 percent plastic-free, it contains roughly 20 percent plastic and 6 percent aluminum, it is a better alternative to plastic water bottles. 

If you’re not able to have a reusable bottle, which are most eco-friendly of all bottled beverages, next time you stop by the store for a quick beverage consider buying a boxed beverage instead of the plastic. It won’t reduce your carbon footprint completely, but it will slowly help the amount of plastic being tossed each day.


Steps to a Greener Future

So you want to help protect the environment, but you don’t know how. That is a situation that many individuals find themselves in, yet they don’t know much about recycling or the reduction of plastic consumption. I’m going to share a few easy tips and lifestyle changes one can incorporate into their daily routine to steer them in the right direction towards a greener future.  

1.     Use a reusable coffee tumbler. In a study from 2016, it was proven that 4 billon Starbucks To-Go cups go to waste annually. As a community, we must take steps to lower this number. One way to do that is by bringing reusable cups to the store instead of using and throwing away a plastic one. Additionally, you receive a discount for bringing your own tumbler. 
2.     Skip the plastic bags at checkout. Plastic bags have caused a downfall in the environment in the past century, but there is a way we can work to overcome it. Bring in reusable bags or empty boxes to the grocery store. Or opt for paper bags instead of plastic ones.
3.     Go straw-less. Straws are another leading cause of death for sea life, yet can easily be avoided. Next time you are at a restaurant tell your waiter you don’t need a straw and drink it the old-fashioned way. If you are at Starbucks ask for a Nitro lid (looks like a sippy cup lid), that way you can omit that straw use.

These 3 simple steps, yet small, help us reach a brighter future for our environment. If everyone in our community followed these few steps the world would already start looking a whole lot greener.


Can we consume less plastic?

There is over 30 million tons of plastic consumed by the US and only around 7percent of that plastic gets recycled. What are some easy ways to reduce our plastic consumption?  One thing that we should all is creating less plastic garbage.  Below are 5 simple suggestions how we can do that:

1.     Don’t buy items that are packaged in plastic, instead have a reusable bag on you. 
2.     Instead of buying bottled water, try using and carry a reusable one. – if you are worried about the cleanliness or chemicals of tap water, invest in a water filter.  There is no evidence that bottled water is healthier than tap water.
3.     Bring a reusable mug when you buy coffee – it is estimated that 4 Billion Starbucks To-Go Cups thrown away every year. Yes, you heard that right, 4 BILLION!
4.     Say NO to straws
5.     Don’t buy clothes made from synthetic materials – washing synthetic clothing causes the micro-plastic particles to flake off and end up in the oceans which hurts the marine life.