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Debbie Gibbs: Conquer the plastic blob

Debbie Gibbs | Other Voices

That’s my vision: a huge blob of plastic overtaking all living things. It’s not far from the truth.

Yearly, over 1 million marine animals die as a result of plastic pollution. For humans, it shows up in our food, air and sadly, bloodstreams.

The USA has the world’s highest rate of plastic pollution, as well as the largest amount. So the action should start here. Why not right here in Nevada County?

Recently, the Nevada County Climate Action Now WasteNOT! group did a Recycle Right Forum on the whole recycling crisis, the predicament and the work being done by CalRecycle to renew the system.

David Garcia, Nevada County solid waste manager, and Shavati Kharki-Pearl, Waste Management public sector manager, offered a lot of information about the changes, including the National Sword action by China to stop receiving our waste, particularly contaminated plastics.

This means we, the people, need to attack the blob ourselves to reduce our waste going to landfill by 75%, mainly because of the greenhouse gases it gives off that add to the climate crisis.

Lauren Scott, sustainability manager for BriarPatch, told of their campaign to reduce all waste as seen in The Vine online: https://zoom.us/recording/detail?meeting_id=jcPAiAn6RBmmd40UHE%2Bw8A%3D%3D.

In July, they will do a “plastic-free month.” If BriarPatch is not your grocer of choice, ask our other great grocers to follow their conscious, sustainable, Earth-friendly example.

Daniel Belshie, community engagement manager from SYRCL, told about all the ways he and the volunteers are helping recycle tons of trash left at the river sites by visitors.

Shirley Freriks, WasteNOT team leader, explained circular economy and why it is imperative that we clean our recyclables so the material sent for reprocessing is clean enough to be sold to recoup recycling costs. We need to reuse our finite natural resources. Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Repurpose before you even think of recycling.

Want to know more about how to recycle right? Visit the WasteNot section for detailed information that will answer many of your questions at http://www.ncclimateactionnow.org as well as the Waste Management website at http://www.wm.com/us/en/recycle-right/recycling-101.

A video recording of the Recycle Right Forum will soon be available on Nevada County Media’s YouTube channel. Information is also on WasteNOT’s web page.

But let’s talk about action you can take now to beat the blob into a drop!

For recycling plastic bags, the following retailers are on it. You can take them only the flexible film plastic bags you can’t put in curbside recycling, and they will bundle it and send it to a reprocessor. They spend extra money to do this because they hate waste, and they deserve our appreciation.

They are the B and C Ace Hardware store, both Safeways, both SPD markets, Grocery Outlet, Savemart and Holiday Market.

A “recycle by mail” option is TerraCycle, which will send you a box for your non-recyclable plastic (rigid as well as flexible), which you return when full. TerraCycle reprocesses it and sends it to companies to make post-consumer plastic containers. You will have to pay some for this service, but you can go in together with neighbors, or other businesses in your area because you all hate waste and don’t mind spending a little for the cause. Their website is at http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/zero_waste_boxes/plastic-packaging

Gaia Soap store will refill your empty plastic bottles with their wonderful soaps and cleaning products. Refills are also an option in the bulk section of grocers like BriarPatch and CalOrganics.

Most of all, think about end of life, not yours, but the products you buy and how they come wrapped. Minimal is better, paper is best (it composts), and reuse if you can instead of recycle (a recycled glass jar is a super storage container).

Support retailers that care about waste. Support California’s CalRecycle that is trying very hard to require manufacturers to factor end of life into product packaging. Lobby legislators in support the State SB 54 and federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Acts, so there are more teeth in packaging and recycling laws.

In the meantime, continue to care and adopt more habits to reduce plastic waste and Recycle Righter. You just may save an animal’s life, and you certainly will contribute to a healthier environment for all of us. Earth Day is every day.

Debbie Gibbs lives in Nevada City.


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