Breaking Our Addiction to Plastic: The Refuse Campaign

Breaking Our Addiction to Plastic: The Refuse Campaign

Michelle Chin
Nov 16, 2010

On November 6, prominent thought leaders, innovators and artists convened in Santa Monica, CA for the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch event. They gathered to share observations on how plastic pollution affects ocean/environmental health and public health; explore solutions for reducing our plastic footprint,...

...and begin to develop ideas about eliminating plastic pollution through individual action as well as public- and private-sector innovation.

There are several videos I encourage you to watch. The one called Plastic Beach shows a team cleaning plastic trash from a small beach in Midway. It states a frightening fact as Manuel Maqueda shows tiny granules of plastic that are being washed onto the sand with each wave, "beaches of the future will be made of plastic."

Single-use plastics and disposable plastics are some of the greatest sources of plastic pollution. Think about all the straws, take-out containers and cups, lids, spoons, forks knives...not to mention the plastic that is often wrapped around many of those items and the bags that we might carry them in. Obviously on a site like this many of us are already trying very hard to be conscientious, but I know I always have room for improvement. I'm committing to be more aware of myself when I'm in a rush, because that's when I'm most likely to not be on my best behavior with the "4 Rs".

"4 Rs," you ask? Most of us are familiar with the more common "3 Rs," (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) but I'm becoming more and more familiar with the 4th R: Refuse. I've been refusing plastic bags for a long time, but refusing everything else that comes with a trip to the local take-out is keeping me on my toes.

Follow the "4 Rs" of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:

Refuse
Just say NO to single-use and disposable plastics!
Reduce
Reduce waste: buy in bulk, choose products with the least packaging, look for products and packaging made from renewable resources, and avoid plastic packaging and containers. Choose products that have the least amount of disposable parts, like razors with replaceable blades and toothbrushes with replaceable brushes.
Reuse
Reuse preferably nontoxic (glass, stainless steel) containers and goods to make less waste. Bad habits are disposable, containers are reusable.
Recycle
Recycle what you can't refuse, reduce or reuse. Recycling is a last option because it uses energy, and there may not be a market for the refabricated materials.

You can take the pledge to REFUSE single use plastics here.

Related posts:
Green On the Go: Top Ten Reusable Utensil Sets
Green Food Storage
Food Storage: Swapping Plastic for Glass

(Images: Seal trapped in plastic pollution, BULGARIA-POLLUTION-RIVER by tedxgp2 licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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