Plastic Free in Seattle

full-trash-can-awesomefoundation.org plastic pollutionIt seems obvious that they are reading our Blue Ocean posts in Seattle and taking to heart, our advice on curbing plastic pollution. In Celebrating Plastic-Free July we described the problem of “single use, throw-away, non-biodegradable” plastic products like coffee cups, water and pop bottles and cutlery all consumed in staggering amounts during the summer “picnic” season. Now they have an opportunity to be plastic free in Seattle.

Someone Was Listening!

It seems someone was listening (although we must admit that others have also raised this issue) but what’s important is that starting next year, restaurants in Seattle will no longer be allowed to provide patrons with plastic straws and utensils.

“As of July 1, 2018, food services businesses should not be providing plastic straws or utensils,” stated Sego Jackson, advisor to Seattle Public Utilities adding “What they should be providing are compostable straws or compostable utensils. They also might be providing durables, reusables, or encouraging you to skip the straw altogether.” The city’s efforts to ban single use, throw-away plastic products have been in the works since 2010 but were stymied by not having compostable alternatives available. Today that has changed. Many Seattle businesses have already made plastic-free commitments.

“Seattle Aquarium moved away from plastic earlier this summer. Jillian Henze of the Seattle Restaurant Association says a campaign called “Strawless in Seattle” is planned for September. As many as 500 local groups and restaurants will stop using plastic straws for the month.

 

plastic pollution, greenpeace
“Plastic straws, in particular, really suck as Dr. David Suzuki wrote, “In the U.S. alone, people discard 500 million straws every day, or more than 180 billion a year. That’s about 1.4 million kilograms of plastic sent to landfills and into the oceans every day!” See our Blue Ocean post on a sea turtle saved from a plastic straw.

Alternatives to Plastic Products

In our post Sailing Through the Garbage Bag Sea and a Tasty Alternative we not only described sailing through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch but also touched on companies that are producing biodegradable alternatives to plastic plates and cutlery. To learn more about Avani and its biodegradable alternatives see the Global Citizen.

Veneerware-Utensils-Knife-Fork-Spoon, bamboo compostable biodegradable cutleryToday there are many more options available, for example Green Cleaning Magazine lists seven possibilities in their Green Products: 7 Green Disposable Cutlery Options. Just a few seconds on the internet will give you names of biodegradable or compostable products and locations where you can purchase them, all at your finger tips. (photo – Veneerware cutlery made from bamboo)

 

Plastic Pollution Facts!

We might use plastic cutlery naively thinking that we can simply recycle it, but it is not that clear-cut so to speak. Although the plastic resin commonly used in cutlery is recyclable, many recycling plants do not accept them because recycling them is not cost effective because of their small size. Another problem is that the food waste normally attached to plastic plates and cutlery can contaminate the recycling process. Reusing plastic items can also have limitations because bacteria from food waste can accumulate and become a health issue.

So maybe not using plastic in the first place is the answer. There are alternatives available, for example use wood chopsticks instead of plastic chopsticks, wood can be mulched and composted. They do this in the Los Angeles area where “green bins” are available.

 

World-wide, countries are joining the movement to ban single use plastics.

France became the first country to impose a ban on the use of plastic throw-away products. Starting in 2020, most plastic cups, plates and cutlery will be totally banned and follows the country’s total ban on plastic bags last year. By 2021, Costa Rica hopes to have a comprehensive plan for totally eliminating single-use plastics. (photo – Trey Ratcliff)

“Single-use plastics are a problem not only for Costa Rica but also for the whole world,” … “It is estimated that if the current consumption pattern continues, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish—measured by weight. For this reason, we began our journey to turn Costa Rica into a single-use plastic-free zone.” “It’s a win-win for all: Costa Rica, the people and the planet.”

India, China and Indonesia are three of about 40 countries worldwide that are confronting their plastic pollution issues. Kenya is one of a growing number of African countries that have implemented bans on plastic bags. Many of the countries most impacted by plastic pollution are coastal nations and much of their plastic pollution goes directly into the sea, directly impacting the health of the oceans and marine life.

These Blue Ocean articles address plastic pollution as a global issue, see:  Ocean Pollution Update: Positive Things Happening and Could 5 countries solve 50% of the world’s Ocean Plastic Pollution? and The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Taking Out the Trash.

By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network

 

Plus these additional, related Blue Ocean Posts on Plastic Pollution:

Thousands of Miles Away Is Not Far Enough To Escape Plastic Pollution
Our Plastic Ocean
Does Your Coffee Cup Take 30 Years to Break Down?
UN Environment Declares War on Ocean Plastic
The Ocean Bottle brings attention to our Daily Plastic Waste
Microfiber Pollution from THE STORY OF STUFF
An Action Agenda to Clean-Up Our Ocean
Polluting Plastics Ban, Good News from Davos
Take the No Plastic Straw Please Pledge

 

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