Life feeling not-so-plastic-free? It's OK, there are big ways to reduce
Plastic is a pain. No matter how much you try, you can’t completely get rid of it in your life. Plus, we Americans are “wishful” recyclers, often assuming that if something has that little three-arrow circle symbol, then we can throw it in our curbside recycling. Not so much, because the numbers don’t mean much. What can and can’t be recycled is dependent on your municipal systems for collecting and sorting waste. Plus, the idea of recycling plastics doesn’t really work. Globally, we’ve only recycled about nine percent of all the plastic ever produced.Even though plastics only entered the mainstream economy 60 years ago, we’ve already managed to produce 8.3 billion metric tons, which has become 6.3 billion metric tons of disposable plastic waste. This is trash that takes more than 400 years to degrade, and it doesn’t seem like manufacturers are slowing down. Plastics that claim “earth-friendly,” “eco,” “biodegradable,” or “compostable” are largely misleading. There are no industrial composting facilities able to crate the correct environment for composting these specialty plastics. New research has shown, these plastics take more resources to produce, and still potentially release harmful chemicals.
Some plastics are necessary, but many more can be avoided with a little effort. When I started my journey with the handle "plastic free mamma." I had high-hopes about how I could live completely without buying any new plastic. Um, that was trip down headache lane. In the end, there are much bigger and better ways to make a difference in the fight for our planet's future than beating yourself up over the vitamins you need that come in a plastic bottle. But, that doesn't mean you should focus on major reductions where possible.
Prevent waste in the first place:
When you have pesky plastics that you can’t re-use:
According to experts, for every five pounds of plastic recycled, you could drive eight miles (round trip) to a depot and still save energy!
Have something you’d like to recycle, but you’re not sure where? Portland has amazing recycling experts standing by to answer all your questions! Call your recycling expert at 503-234-3000 between 8:30 am and 5 pm Monday through Saturday, or submit a question online.
Intentional living in Portland, OR
I take sustainability personally. Really personally. I use my voice to advocate for plastic-free and low-waste living by offering tips, tricks and hacks to busy families through my Instagram account @eco.emily.pdx. When I have something really long to say about something, I'll stick it here.