Reuse, recycle, and reconsider

With the changing climate and increasing global population, it has come to the point where we as Americans should start and need to reduce the negative effects we have on the environment.

In 2010, cleanair.org reported that the average American office worker used about 500 disposable cups per year. If a small group of just 10 office workers chose to use reusable glasses at work that would cut the use of disposable cups by 5,000. California is the highest populous state in the country with a state population of just over 37 million, according to 2010.census.gov. If every office within our own state had reusable glasses in their break rooms, the positive effects would be tremendous. If society as a whole made a strong effort to use reusable canteens and bags, rather than plastic bottles and bags, the benefits would be astonishing.

But the repercussions of disposable cups, bottles, bags, and containers go much further than the landfills that they are poured into. The energy and money spent disposing of the plastics is an unnecessary expense.

Last year, California alone, spent $25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfills, with an additional $8.5 million dollars to remove the trash and litter from streets, according to cleanair.org. The state could certainly use the savings with California’s current budget deficit soaring at $20.7 billion dollars in 2011 to 2012, according to lao.ca.gov.

Despite the fiscal advantages of reusable products, the biggest returns come environmentally. America alone uses approximately 1 billion shopping bags per year, creating an absorbent amount of 300,000 tons of plastic waste, stated clearnair.org. Unfortunately for the environment, plastic waste does not completely decompose. Instead, plastics break down into smaller and smaller particles that can pollute the surrounding ground soils, water, and animals.

On a more positive note, there are several easy and cost-effective substitutes for plastic containers.

Within companies and offices, where paper cups are most common, the use of glass and ceramic cups can be encouraged. It would save money in the long run and help businesses with fewer purchases of paper cups, while simultaneously helping to lessen trash impact on the environment.

For the daily shopper and citizen, reusable totes made from recycled material provide a healthier alternative when shopping at the grocery store. The small investment to buy the reusable bags will go a long way to helping our world. Rather than buying a bottle of water, reusable plastic or metal canteens can be used for a beverage on the go.

Most Americans tend to use plastic bags when shopping because it is what we are accustomed to. Plastic and paper bags have been provided to us for years, which dragged us into the bad habit of constantly using and relying on them. Leaving reusable bags in the car at all times is a helpful way to change that habit.

If we wait and keep putting this issue to the back of our minds it may reach a point where it is too late to reverse these detrimental side effects. Whether it is convenience or just something we are used to, it makes no difference. Putting forth the extra effort to use reusable bags and bottles will benefit our health, environment, and businesses for future generations to come.


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