Per Environmental Protection Agency data, containers and packaging make for 30% of our solid waste. Additionally, only 9% of plastics used are actually recycled. With recent concerns about the US shipping plastic recyclables overseas, a growing interest against single-use plastics, over-packaging, and plastics all together is rising.
California lawmakers aim towards zero-waste goals, including a 75% recycling compliance by 2020, increasing the diversion of organic waste from landfills, and improving manufacturing and recycling infrastructures.
Del Mar’s own Climate Action Plan aims to divert 80% and 95% of our waste by 2020 and 2035, respectively. Bertha Leone’s zero waste challenge in her February Sandpiper sustainability article threw Sandpiper editor Ann Gardner into a conundrum of figuring out how to get along without plastic when grocery shopping. She reported in the May 2019 write up: “Previously, I had thought that bringing my reusable shopping bag was all there was to it. Wrong!”
And with recent ordinances enacted in Del Mar, there is more to be aware of: plastic straws, Styrofoam, non-recyclable plastic utensils, and single-use plastic bags. Impressive, indeed. Each one of us can kick it up a notch, by further reducing what goes in the gray bin!
Idea 1: Trash bag solution
Have you ever wondered why you need to purchase trash bags to put trash in? My grandfather did not use trash bags in his bin; he would simply rinse it. Is there really a need to have a nice red-bowed packaging to send trash to the landfill? My suggestion is to re-use any plastic or packaging you have at home; it works all the same. In fact, my family has not utilized “formal” trash bags in over a year.
Idea 2: What to do with plastic film, bags and bubble wrap?
Our recycling bin should include glass jars, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles and sturdy plastic containers. All other non-qualifying plastics head straight to the landfill. Wait, there is a solution! Target and Stater Bros. accept clean, dry plastic films, plastic bags and bubble wraps, while Ralphs accepts plastic bags. The plastics are transformed in composite lumber or in small pellets used in making bags and containers. Look for the drop off bins near the entrance.
Next month, I will discuss ideas to reduce single-use plastics when shopping.
Has your family taken particular steps to make our planet a more sustainable place to live in? Did you find a local business with superb eco-friendly practices we should support? Please write to email@example.com and I will include your suggestions in future articles.