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Earth Day 2018 - Ways to Cut Back on Your Plastic Usage

Earth Day 2018   Next Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day 2018. Regardless of your views on global warming, I think we can all agree that we need to take care of our planet. It’s the only one we’ve got! To that end, the Earth Day Network has announced, “Earth Day 2018 is dedicated to providing the information and inspiration needed to fundamentally change human attitude and behavior about plastics.” In other words, let’s all work together to end plastic pollution.   According to the Earth Day Network, the growth of plastics is threatening the survival of our planet. And they aren’t the only ones talking about the danger of this highly convenient yet potentially harmful manufacturing material. Recently there has been a movement to remove plastic straws from use. Since plastic straws (and plastic bags and bottles) can take as long as 500 years to forever to break down, there is concern that these, often one-time-use, items will affect the earth for centuries to come.   Did you know that there are 500 million straws used in the United States every single day? Between fast-food restaurants, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and even private homes, we use a LOT of straws. Enough to wrap around the Earth’s circumference 2½ times! Unfortunately, these straws end up littering our planet and have even been found in the nostrils of sea turtles.   There’s no denying that plastic straws are extremely convenient. Fast food restaurants in particular use quite a few straws. Restaurants and bars not only use plastic drinking straws but plastic cocktail straws or stir sticks. And coffee shops use both straws and stir sticks as well. With their prevalence, what can you do instead of using plastic straws?   At restaurants and bars, it should be easy to cut back on straw usage. In many cases, straws are a convenience and not a necessity. Drinks can be quaffed by simply holding the glass or cup up to the lip. And cocktails or sodas aren’t any less unsanitary than a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, so that argument is frankly a little silly. In fact, many restaurants, bars, and cafes have already gone to a “straws available upon request” strategy.   But what if you really want a straw or a stir stick? Never fear. There are paper straws and now reusable straws for those who still want to sip their drinks daintily or for thick shakes that are difficult to drink without a straw. For stirring your cocktails? A wooden stir stick or a metal cocktail stirrer does the trick. And for coffee, the wooden stir stick or a spoon (gasp) would work just fine.   So back to Earth Day. How can you get involved and help the planet? Check out the official Earth Day 2018 Campaign. Through this page, you can learn about events that are happening across the US and around the world to help lessen the impact of plastic on the environment. There is also a link to a Plastic Pollution Footprint Calculator so you can see how much of an impact your plastic use makes. In addition to cutting back on your plastic use, consider recycling as well. One sure way to keep these plastic pieces from getting into our oceans and littering our beautiful planet is by making sure they are disposed of properly and not necessarily in our landfills. How are you observing Earth Day this year? Let us know in the comments.
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