Plastics and garbage

April 20th, 2012 by Ken

There’s no doubt that we use too much stuff. There’s no doubt the stuff we use creates – – garbage.

It’s estimated, by people more knowable than I, that the average American creates four and a half pounds of garbage each day. That’s on the low side. Some estimates has it as much as seven pounds per person per day.

The average European on the other hand creates less than four pounds each day while the average Asian creates about two and a half pounds. By whatever measure, we create a lot of garbage.

And, among the garbage thrown out each year is a lot of plastic. Each year, right here in the United States, we throw away about 19 billion pounds of those styrofoam peanuts and another 40 billion pounds of plastic knife, forks and spoons. That’s billions of pounds we’re talking about.

We recycle, but less than three percent of our garbage is recycled. A good portion of the rest goes into landfills.

I like to think I’m a good recycler. I fill up my recycle container with paper, aluminum cans, plastic pop bottles and plastic water bottles. I know those can be recycled. But I don’t know about the rest of my plastic – – except plastic bags. I know they can’t be recycled.

Those are the ones that you get at the supermarket. The fall back bag for the markets. Unless you bring your own bag or ask for paper, you’ll get plastic. The ones that can’t be recycled.

Some ardent environmentalists have been working to get plastic bags banned and have been successful in a few Northwest cities including Seattle. They’re probably looking at such a move here in Thurston County.

So far, our garbage people haven’t jumped on that bag wagon. They’re still trying to educate us about the problems with plastic grocery bags and hope we’ll use our own bags or ask for paper.

I have my own bags, but like you, I just forget to take them with me, or leave them in the car and am too lazy to go back and get them. So, at checkout, the clerk puts my groceries in a plastic bag.

Why don’t they ask me anymore if I want paper or plastic? Why do they just assume I want plastic?

If they’d ask, I’d say paper, and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting rid of my plastic grocery bags anymore.

Posted in Business, Government, Informational, The Real News

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