Social Change

A Brief History of Plastic & 5 Things You Can Do To Help the Single-Use Plastic Epidemic

Supported by Ara Chackerian

A staggering amount of plastic has been produced in America since the 1950s, though the first synthetic polymer known as Bakelite was produced in 1907 by a Belgian-born American living in New York who went by the name of Leo Hendrick.

Since the inception, the United States is responsible for creating 8.3 billion tons of plastic, which is equivalent to the weight of 1 billion elephants! A sobering fact is that this plastic will be around for hundreds of years, if not thousands; outliving the very beings that created and used it, to the demise of our planet’s environment. Research and science confirm the omnipresence of plastic is damaging to the health of our oceans, as well as the health of wildlife, and even human life.

There are impacts that we can make toward solving this ‘plastic epidemic’. The best solution is to implore your politicians and local & corporate businesses to stop making plastic so available to the world, and stop utilizing it in their practices.

The following examples are 5 simple things you can personally do to positively impact the environment:

  1. Stop Buying Bottled Water –

Every minute, 1 million bottles of water are bought all over the world, and their final destinations are the landfills and the oceans. At this rate, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Instead, purchase a bottle you can reuse.

  1. Travel with Your Own Silverware –

When you do this, you will not be using plastic utensils every time you enjoy a meal away from home. Let your local food chains (or even your office) know you don’t need or want plastic wear with your meal to avoid additional waste.

  1. Travel with Your Own Mug –

Have your favorite coffee shop fill your own mug from home instead of accepting a plastic cup. Some coffee shops will even give you a discount!

  1. Carry Your Groceries Home in a Non-Plastic, Reusable Bag –

Bring your cloth bags from home with you and reuse them again and again. Also when shopping, try to be conscious of avoiding products that use a lot of plastic in their packaging. Where you choose to spend your money speaks volumes.

  1. Stop Buying Shampoos and Shower Gels in Plastic Bottles –

Be diligent to find versions of these products that are wrapped in paper, and suggest your friends and family do the same. Spreading the word is what it’s all about.

Social Change

How Can One Individual Help the Environment?

Supported by Ara Chackerian

“I’m just one person; the difference I alone will make is insignificant.” Have you ever thought this to yourself? Well stop right there. Everyone can make a difference. In fact, it all starts with one, it all starts with you.

The first thing you should do is calculate your carbon footprint. Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy have carbon calculators that will determine the impact you are having on the Earth. The calculator will use your consumption patterns, energy use and transportation habits to calculate a number that can help you identify what you are doing right and where you can make improvements. Once you have this information, it’s up to you to implement positive lifestyle changes for the benefit of the environment.

While reducing your emissions is a noble goal, you can also offset what you are putting into the atmosphere whenever you fly. One thing you can do is donate money toward initiatives that reduce emissions, such as renewable energy and tree plantings. Another good idea is to fly Delta, American Airlines and JetBlue airlines, as they offer carbon credits every time you purchase a ticket. You can also buy offsets from Cool Effect or Native Energy. Consider it as a package price with your plane ticket, and take the cost into consideration when planning your next trip.

The Lonely Whale Foundation would like everyone to take the #StopSuckingChallenge and refuse to use straws from now on. If we all do this, 500 million plastic straws would be kept out of the oceans each day.

Many environmental groups have created pre-populated forms that you can use to tell your congressional representatives about your concerns. For example, all you would need to do is sign The Sierra Club’s form, and you will be adding your voice to those who want to save the planet.

If going straw-less or changing over to solar energy isn’t for you, you may be able to switch to renewable energy by contacting Green Mountain Energy, which eliminates the need for you to switch energy providers.