Plastic Pollution
March 15 2012

Rise Above Plastics this St. Patricks Day!

by Bill Hickman

St. Patrick's Day is a festive time for many people and a perfect day to truly be green.  Leave the dye out of the river, but bring out the green clothes for sure.  On the plastics front, leave the disposable items at home when you go to the local parade.  Think of it as a visit to the beach or park - pack in and pack out.  Sure, there will probably be trash/recycle cans, but litter blows and could fly away, especially if bins are overflowing.  Here's something else to consider: floating plastic widgets in your beer can, which are often found in Irish stouts.

Here's another example of plastics entering our lives in a single-use form with no plans for what to do with it post-consumer. 

I'm not sure where you can recycle those things, I don't see a resin code on it and there's some beer trapped inside after I retrieved one from an empty can.  Sure, a couple of them are no big deal but once you get into mass production the plastic adds up and it starts to become an issue.  It's also becoming an issue with wine as many wineries are switching from cork to plastic for their stoppers.

What can you do?

1) Avoid beer with floating widgets!  They are typically shipped in from overseas, so a local craft brew is typically fresher and better for various reasons if you drink beer.  Some local breweries create a seasonal Irish stout and many offer glass growler refills!!

2) Remember your reusable bag and practice the 4 R's of plastic pollution reduction: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

3) Embrace 'Extended Producer Responsibility'.  Let's encourage manufacturers to be more responible for their products beyond the point of sale - think of excess packaging that's hard to recycle in many places.  Germany is a leader in this field and has shown how it can be successful and still profitable for business.

4) Share this blog post with friends and remind them to Rise Above Plastics with the Surfrider Foundation!