Turn Off The Plastic Tap
Turn Off the Plastic Tap is a plastic scultpure with plastic waster collected from Nairobi

United Nations Resolution on Plastics

A resolution adopted Wednesday March 2, 2022 by the United Nations lays out an ambitious plan to reduce plastic pollution.  This decision is a historic milestone in the global effort to prevent our planet from drowning in plastics.  The committee’s mandate includes all phases of the plastic life cycle from design and production to waste management.

What is so significant about it?  The broad strokes include goals to:
  • Make packaging more sustainable (no more clamshells, we hope).
  • Ramp up recycling (only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled, according to the United Nations Environment Program).
  • Do something about microplastics, the insidious less than 5mm plastic pieces that sneak into our waters.
  • Limit the overall production of plastic.

The treaty won’t be fully hashed out until 2024 which is actually a fast timeline for global agreements. Whatever goals make it to the final draft will be legally binding to keep loopholes to a minimum.

It turns out plastic is not fantastic. About 11 million tons of plastic waste wash into bodies of water annually, and the UNEP estimates that will triple by 2040.

This resolution is an amazing show of what the world can do when nations work together. It is hopeful this is the beginning of the end of the scourge of plastic on our planet.

Marcia Schroeder
Plastic Reduction Committee
Asheville, NC
No Waste shopping
Kroger has created no wast shopping opportunities

No waste shopping is catching on!

The following story is republished with permission from Civil Eats.
Reasons to be cheerful.world/plastic-free-shopping

Two years ago, efforts to kick the country’s plastic addiction were on fire. Municipalities around the country were implementing plastic bag taxes, while mainstream shoppers embraced reusable grocery bags and flocked to the bulk aisles for foods like beans and nuts.

However, all that came to a halt when stopping the spread of Covid-19 became the country’s top priority. Almost overnight, grocery stores closed their bulk-shopping sections, coffee shops stopped filling reusable coffee mugs and individually wrapped everything took center stage.

Now, signs are emerging that the fight against plastic is getting back on track. One of the most notable of those signs came from Kroger last month, when the nation’s largest grocery chain announced it was expanding an online trial with Loop, an online platform for refillable packaging, to 25 Fred Meyer store locations in Portland, Oregon.

Kroger plans to offer a separate Loop aisle in these stores. The products, which will include a mix of items in food and other categories, can be bought in glass containers or aluminum boxes. When they’re empty, customers return the containers to the store to be cleaned and used again. Originally scheduled for this fall, the launch has been postponed to early 2022 because of supply chain challenges, but a spokesperson said they will continue to work with their brand partners to consider items that can be added to expand the program over time.

The partnership is a heartening sign after a tough year, said Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle, the company behind the Loop initiative. “Overall, I was very worried that the pandemic would shift the conversation away from waste,” Szaky told Civil Eats. “It didn’t slow down. In fact, the environmental movement’s only gotten stronger.” While consumer reuse models — reusable grocery bags, refillable coffee mugs — “got punched in the face,” he said, it was mainly because retailers stopped allowing them for safety reasons.

And while Loop’s growth was slowed by the pandemic, it was for the same factors that upended many companies’ plans — not because interest was drying out, said Szaky. The demand is still there, he adds, and he’s bullish on the idea that mainstream grocery stores are going to need to find a way to meet it.

waste free shopping
wands for wildlife
Mascara wands can help injured wildlife

Wands for Wildlife – Local Effort Gone Global

When it comes to the environment and with many other opportunities in life, the
phrase, “One person can make a difference” is so true! Can saving one used
mascara wand from the landfill make a difference? You bet!
Mascara has the shortest shelf life of all beauty products ~ about three months to
help prevent any eye irritation or infection. So what to do with that wand? It can
be put to use caring for wildlife – seriously!
Wands for Wildlife is a nonprofit based outside Asheville that inspires people to
help wildlife and the environment through re-purposing discarded mascara
wands. The unique initiative started as a program at Appalachian Wildlife Refuge
and is now helping wildlife caregivers and animals through a worldwide base of
support. The organization engages people in ways to support wildlife caregivers
and encourages greater mindfulness of the impact from human activities,
including the use of plastics, on the environment. While the organization does not
work directly with the animals, the programs provide wands and support to help
wildlife caregivers in the treatment and care of wild animals.
Cleaned and sanitized mascara wands can help injured and orphaned wildlife in
many ways including to clean wounds and to remove fly larvae or other pests.
Wands have even been used on wildlife affected by forest fires to help clean soot
from their bodies. Plus, the brushes are great at cleaning equipment like syringes
and filters in aquariums. There is a resource guide on uses that is included in the
Wildlife Caregiver Resource Kit which includes wands and other supplies to help
in the care and treatment of the animals. In 2021, through a global pandemic, the
organization was still able to get out over 200 kits to home-based wildlife
rehabilitators and facilities across the country.

Kelly Doktor, Wand Ambassador & Tashi Brewster, Founder & Executive Director of Wands for Wildlife

GROCERY OUTLET READY TO HELP REDUCE PLASTIC

 
Grocery Outlet on Leicester Highway welcomed us to their store so that we could dispense grocery bags on Monday.  We greeted customers with a reusable canvas bag and encouraged them to bring the bag with them each time they shopped.  The bags were received with many masked smiles and shoppers exited the store with their canvas bag filled to the brim with no single-use plastic bags in sight.    
 
Switching to canvas bags for your groceries can have a huge impact on reducing our greenhouse gases and preventing pollution in our waterways. Plastic bags are made with fossil fuels: approximately 8% to 10% of our total oil supply goes to creating plastic and plastic bags account for an estimated 12 million barrels of oil per year in the U.S. Plastic bags are also strewn across our oceans: about 300 million plastic bags end up in the Atlantic Ocean each year which hurts wildlife and damages our delicate marine ecosystems.
 
Thanks to Grocery Outlet for sharing their sidewalk and allowing us to give out reusable grocery bags. All of us can reduce plastic by remembering to bring our reusable bags each time we shop.

Mary Moody and Marcia Schroder, AGW Plastic Reduction Task Force

California & Seattle Outlaw Many To-go Accessories

Since October 2021, California law has required restaurants to stop including plastic utensils, condiments like ketchup and mustard, and napkins with takeout and dine-in meals unless a customer specifically asks for them.  Businesses have removed single-use disposable food-ware dispensers as well.   This legislation was enacted to reduce trash on roads and pollution in the waterways.  In July 2018, Seattle banned plastic straws and utensils in bars and restaurants to help reduce waste and prevent marine plastic pollution.

Now is our time to act.   Say “No Thank You” to single-use items and tell your friends, family, and representatives.

Terry Scholl,  AGW Plastic Reduction Task Force

Plastic quiz

 

 

Q1:  How many states in the US have a bottle deposit?

  1. 50
  2. 30
  3. 25
  4. 10

Correct answer:  10

 

Q2:  How many plastic water bottles are used in the US every day? (not sure about this question)

A:  60-70 million plastic bottles

More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day. Six times as many plastic water bottles were thrown away in the US in 2004 as in 1997.

 

 

Q3:  When/what year does the European Union’s single use plastic ban go into effect?

A:  2025

B:  2030

C: 2035

D: 2040

Correct answer:  2030

 

Q4:  Which organization has been running the International Coastal Cleanup since 1986?

A:  Ocean Conservancy

  1. The Nature Conservancy
  2. Conservation International
  3. GreenWorks

Correct answer:  Ocean Conservancy

 

Q5:  What artist makes collages replicating famous art pieces out of trash items?

A:  Chris Jordan

 

 

Q6: What percentage of plastics end up in the ocean, landfill or environment?   (need to separate these categories)

  • 25%
  • 55%
  • 78%
  • 91%

Correct answer: 91%

 

Q7: How often should you wash your reusable shopping bag?

  1.  When it looks dirty.     
  2.  After each use.
  3.  Monthly.
  4.  Annually

Correct answer: After each use.

 

Q8:  What is glitter made of?

A:  Plastic

 

Q9: To make a t-shirt bag, you need a t-shirt and:

  1. Scissors, a pattern, a tape measure, pins, a sewing machine
  2. Scissors, a sewing machine
  3. Scissors

Answer: C

 

Q10: You can decorate a t-shirt bag using:

  1. Permanent markers/Sharpies
  2. Tie-Dye techniques
  3. Fabric Paints
  4. All of the above

Answer: D

 

Q11: T-shirt bags are great because you can:

  1. Use them one time then toss in the recycling
  2. Wash and use them again and again
  3. Wear them as pants

Answer: B

 

Q12:  Which plastics are not recycleable?

  1. Two-liter coke bottles
  2. Sunglass lenses

Answer = sunglass lenses

 

Q13:  Where do I get a drying rack for the plastic food storage bags I have washed for reuse? 

  1. Pinterest
  2. Etsy
  3. Your own ingenious solution
  4. All of the above

Answer = D

 

Q14: Soap nuts are not actually nuts.  They are a type of:

  1. insect shell
  2. berry
  3. hemp product
  4. plastic

Answer = berry

 

Q15: Soap nuts:

  1. grow only in China
  2. should be avoided if you have eczema or psoriasis
  3. can be used as a mosquito repellant

Answer: can be used as a mosquito repellant

 

Q16: The cost of using soap nuts for laundry is about:

  1. 5 cents per load
  2. 10 cents per load
  3. 25 cents per load

Answer:  5 cents per load

 

Q17: A simple natural deodorant is: 

  1. Himalayan salt
  2. kale juice
  3. green tea

Answer:  Himalayan salt

 

 

Unused questions

 

  1. How large are “microplastics”?
  1. 5 nanometers
  2. Less than 5 millimeters long
  3. 6-10 millimeters 
  4. Over 10 millimeters

 

How many plastic beads (microplastics) are found in a tube of facewash?

 

  1. What kinds of damage can microplastics cause to aquatic organisms?

 

A: They can cause inflammation by rubbing up against internal organs, and in some cases, they can even pass into the bloodstream or other organs. Persistent organic pollutants can adsorb to pieces of plastic and desorb within organisms, storing in their fatty tissues.

 

  1. Where is the name of the ocean’s largest concentration of plastic?

 

A: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

 

 

  1. What is bioaccumulation?

 

A: The accumulation of substances (typically chemicals) within organisms throughout the food chain. Bioaccumulation occurs when a substance is able to build up inside of an organism faster than it can be excreted.

 

 

From the children’s book review:  Join the No-Plastic Challenge by Scot Ritchie

 

  1. What is the correct answer when offered straws at restaurants? A. No thank you
  2. What are the 3 Rs?  A. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  3. What are 2 things that reducing plastics can help protect?  A. Wildlife and Food Sources

 

From May 4, Plastic Bag Ban Post:

 

  1. About how many municipalities had passed bag bans as of January 1st, 2020?
  1. 10
  2. 2,000
  3. 500
  4. 45

Correct: C

 

  1. What Industry Association is responsible for spreading information about the unhygienic nature of reusable bags?
  1. Plastic Industry Association
  2. Consumer Services Association
  3. Model Communities Association
  4. World Educational Association

Correct: A

 

  1. True or False: single-use plastics 100% sterile and unable to harbor any diseases on their surfaces.
  1. True
  2. False

Correct: B

 

May 11, Bottle Bill Post:

  1. Which of the following states have enacted Bottle Bill legislation?
  1. Iowa
  2. North Carolina
  3. Texas
  4. Wyoming

Correct: A

 

  1. Where do Bottle Bills place the burden of packaging waste disposal?
  1. Taxpayers
  2. Consumers and Producers
  3. Governments
  4. All of the Above

Correct: B

 

  1. True or False: Bottle Bills have been shown to increase overall recycling participation.
  1. True
  2. False

Correct: A

 

May 18, Homemade Masks

  1. Where should you wear a mask to protect against the spread of diseases?
  1. In gas stations
  2. In heavily trafficked areas
  3. In grocery stores
  4. All of the Above

Correct: D

 

  1. True or False: You need a sewing machine to make a mask at home.
  1. True
  2. False

Correct: B

 

  1. How many steps does it take to make a mask from an old T-shirt?
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Correct: C

 

Alternative plastics

Bioplastics

 

  1. Where can you compost a corn-based bioplastic cup?
  1. Backyard compost
  2. Recycling Bin
  3. You can’t
  4. Commercial composting facility

 

  1. What are #7 plastics?  Are they recyclable?  (NO)

This is the “other” category.

 

  1. What is something you could use instead of shrink wrap or plastic bags?
  1. Beeswax wrap
  2. Metal container
  3. Glass container
  4. All of the above

How to reuse plastic bags

As much as we try to avoid plastic food storage bags, by using glass containers, etc., we still
end up with some. Washing, drying and storing is not my favorite thing to do but there are a few
things that help.
There are silicone bags available from Stasher and others that are dishwasher safe but you can
handwash the free ones you get when using your own reusables aren’t an option. The zip bags
like like the ones you get from Trader Joe’s containing nuts and dried fruit and bread or produce
bags can be reused until they fail. It’s not a perfect, plastic free world but it helps.
1. Wash in warm soapy water.
2. Make or buy a drying rack. Etsy and Pinterest have great options. Just google ‘plastic
bag drying rack’.
3. Use different size open boxes to store them by size. Roll up each bag and stick them on
end in the box so you can see what you have.

Debi Treleaven, AGW Plastic Reduction Task Force

France is embracing Plastic-free

As of January 1, 2022, a large portion of France’s produce will no longer be sold in single-use plastic containers.  The new law affects about 30 different fruits and vegetables eliminating an estimated 1 billion pieces of single-use plastic annually.   France is taking a phased-in approach with additional fruits and vegetables being sold plastic-free in 2023 and 2024.  Moving away from single-use plastic packaging will take time, but this is a big step towards a cleaner environment.

The packaging ban is part of a multi-year government program to phase out plastic. From 2021, France banned plastic straws, cups, and cutlery, as well as Styrofoam takeaway boxes.

Read more reasontobecheerful.world/france-plastic

Terry Scholl, AGW  Plastic Reduction Task Force

Reduce household plastics by DIY-in it!

Over the past few years, I embarked on a journey to reduce the use of plastic in my home, one of the only places in the world I can control, of course with the exception of my two teenage daughters! After testing many recipes from sites like like Humbled Homemaker, Everyday Cheapskate, and Mommypotomus.  I developed recipes with a few simple ingredients, ones you can already find around your house. Most of these ingredients are packaged sustainably, or at least available in refillable or large sizes.

Here is the list:

  1. Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) 
  2. Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) 
  3. Coarse Salt
  4. Castile Bar Soap 
  5. Castile Liquid Soap 
  6. Lemon Juice 
  7. Vinegar
  8. Your Favorite Essential Oils 

Both Super Washing Soda and Baking Soda come in 3-4lb boxes, which can be purchased from stores like Lowes and Walmart or ordered online. There are bulk deals online for most of these ingredients as well. However, one must be careful about the packaging associated with online shipments. 

Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap is available as a bulk refillable in most natural foods stores. I am a big fan of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds; it is better for cleaning hard surfaces such as dishes. Luckily, our own fabulous, local French Broad Food Co-op sells this as a bulk refillable. It also makes a great all-purpose spray and mop solution. My other recommendations for all-natural household cleaners include your favorite combination of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda as well as the dish liquid below.

Without further ado, here are my favorite tried-and-tested recipes:

Dish Liquid:

1 Tbsp Salt kosher or table

1 1/2 cups hot water

⅔ cup liquid Castile soap or Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds

1 Tbsp washing soda

⅛ tsp tea tree oil, lavender, or citrus essential oil

In a small pot heat a few Tbsp water and salt until dissolved. Pour into a separate container. Combine the washing soda and 2 cups of water to the pot and heat until dissolved. Add the sal suds and essential oil to the pot and pour into the jar or dispenser. Add saltwater mixture and shake. It will foam and thicken (you can add more for thicker soap). Oil and vinegar bottles are great dispensers! 

Dishwasher soap cubes:

1 cup washing soda

1 cup Kosher salt

1 cup baking soda

¾ cup lemon juice

Measure all dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Then add the lemon juice. Let the ingredients foam for a minute. Mix all together and press into molds that will fit in your dishwasher. Peanut butter cup molds and ice cube trays work well. Allow tablets to harden completely overnight. 

Laundry detergent: 

1 bar Castille soap, 

1 cup washing soda, 

1 cup baking soda, 

1 cup Kosher salt. 

Grate Castille soap in a food processor, then add in the other ingredients. Make sure to cover the top, so you don’t inhale the particulate. A ¼  cup scoop is perfect for a top loader machine.