Take Action: Environmental Awareness Days and Events
August 17th is National Thrift Shop Day!
The “3 R’s” are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and they are meant to be taken in that order. During Plastic Free July we talked about REDUCING waste. On National Thrift Shop Day let’s talk about the second R – REUSING!
Did you know that our clothing has a huge impact on the environment, by some estimates second only to the oil and gas industry. By making simple changes to your style, such as buying fewer higher quality items and wearing them longer, shopping second hand, or donating and recycling your old clothes you can:
- Reduce Waste. The EPA estimates that 80% of clothing disposed of in a year ends up in the landfill rather than incinerated or recycled. This clothing represents as much as 9% of municipal solid waste.
- Reduce Emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with clothing and shoes is roughly equivalent to the emissions attributed to the entire European Union.
- Reduce Pollution. According to the World Bank, as much as 20% of global industrial water pollution is from dyeing and treating textiles with at least 72 known toxic chemicals that reach water supplies in the process. Cotton is an intensive crop, representing the 4th largest consumer of agricultural chemicals.
- Conserve Water. In addition to being chemically intensive, cotton is water intensive as well. As much as 700 gallons of water go in to making a single cotton t-shirt.
In addition to clothing, thrift stores are great places to find other items to reuse including toys and furniture. Thrift shops are also great places to pick up high quality jars and glassware that can replace all the disposable plastic containers you gave up last month!
This July - Go Plastic Free!
This July the City of Boca Raton is encouraging residents to participate in Plastic Free July! Why go plastic free? Since 1950, MILLIONS of tons of plastic have been produced and a shocking 91% of it is not recycled. Since plastic does not biodegrade, that means that all that plastic is still in existence either in our landfills or in the environment, including our oceans. Almost half of plastic production is for packaging. This material designed to last forever is used to make items that are disposable. By 2050 100% of seabirds will be eating plastic and plastic will outweigh fish in the oceans. That is just not sustainable! Plastic Free July aims to challenge and empower people to reduce their use of disposable plastics.
How to go plastic free this July?
- Choose to refuse plastic water bottles. Instead, drink tap water. Boca Raton has an award winning sustainable water utility. Not only will eliminating plastic water bottles reduce plastic, it can save a household thousands of dollars a year.
- BONUS TIP! To reduce plastic bottles used for a hurricane, before the storm fill a water cooler, jugs, bottles, and jars with water.
- Choose to refuse plastic retail bags. Plastic bags are lightweight and frequently become litter by blowing away. If plastic bags are put in recycling bins they tangle in the equipment and cause damage. Reduce your use of plastic bags by using reusable totes and produce bags. These bags do have their own environmental footprint, so try to cultivate a collection of just the number you need and decline any extraneous freebies. Donate extras or recycle them.
- Choose to refuse plastic straws.A viral video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up her nose brought straws in to the spotlight. For most of us, straws are not necessary and yet by industry estimate Americans use over 500 million straws a day. Straws are one of the top ten items picked up in beach clean ups and unfortunately are too lightweight to be recycled. When you order a drink out, simply remember to say “no straw, please.”
- BONUS TIP! If you do need or want a straw, there are many reusable options made from metal, glass, or bamboo.
- Choose to refuse plastic with your coffee. If you frequent one of the local coffee shops in town, make sure to bring a reusable mug for them to fill. Do you have a Keurig? Instead of throwing away all those plastic pods, invest in a reusable pod!
- BONUS TIP! Buy certified fair trade or shade grown coffee to protect biodiversity and local economies in coffee growing regions!
- Choose to refuse waste! Do you want to expand your plastic free goals to being totally zero waste? Zero waste is more of a journey than a destination, but if you want to get a start there are many great zero waste blogs out there to set you on your way. These blogs have tips for alternative products to use, how to shop bulk foods, and even recipes to make your own versions of common plastic contained products. Two great ones to get you started are Trash is for Tossers and Going Zero Waste.
- BONUS TIP! Be sure to check out the Boca Raton Public Library for more great resources on going zero waste, DIY projects, and a spectrum of environmental topics. Borrowing books from a library instead of buying them is also a great example of reducing resource consumption!
On World Environment Day and World Oceans Day We Will Beat Plastic Pollution!
The first week of June is packed with environmental awareness, people across the globe will be observing World Environment Day on June 5th and World Oceans Day on June 8th. This year, the two events have a common theme: plastic pollution. World Environment Day asks us to “beat plastic pollution” while World Oceans Day asks us to “prevent plastic pollution” but the goal is the same; there needs to be less plastic used and even less that makes it to our oceans.
What is the problem with plastic?
Marine Debris describes plastic that has made its way in to our oceans. Learn more about marine debris from NOAA.