Each day this week, United For Justice will be sharing “Tips for Light Footsteps on Mother Earth.” These are also posted on Sandy Wilmot’s blog, where you can find even more posts on “What’s Up With the Climate.”
Over the last 30 years the by-words Reduce, Reuse and Recycle have been incorporated into our lives and our behaviors. Close-to-home proof of this is the recent survey we participated in on Earth Day Sunday â€“ many of us are making creative conscious choices that reduce, reuse and recycle. And we are not alone, a number of recent surveys found that over 85% of adults are concerned about plastic pollution and over 75% are taking steps to reduce the single-use plastic they buy.
Unfortunately, during those same 30 years, the proliferation of single use plastics in packaging has outpaced all our efforts. Plastic packaging now makes up over 40% of the tons of plastics produced and 52% of the plastic thrown away every day with only 9% actually being recycled. Itâ€™s hard not to feel small and ineffectual in the face of the mountain of waste thatâ€™s already been created and is degrading in the environment.
Now EarthDay.Org has added Refuse, Remove and Rally to the powerful actions we need to incorporate into our lives to further our efforts against the growing glut of plastic packaging waste in our world. I can feel overwhelmed by the range plastic packaging I encounter at the grocery store, but I am energized by the challenge to REFUSE, REMOVE and RALLY.
Refuse Plastics at the Grocery Store
By choosing our purchases with the type of packaging used in mind, we can reduce the amount of plastics we buy at the grocery store, and we can encourage grocers and their suppliers to choose better packaging. Iâ€™ve grown weary of the number of products packaged in plastic clamshells, and I go out of my way to purchase items that are packaged in more easily recycled aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, glass containers, paper bags and compostable materials. I also speak to the grocers, thank them for carrying items in non-plastic containers and let them know why I wonâ€™t be buying a product in their store until they stock it in a package I can live with. Many grocery chains have made commitments to making less plastic-dependent packaging choices, but until those corporate commitments show up in my local store, Iâ€™ll bring my cloth produce bags and refuse to buy that pie encased in plastic.
Remove Plastics from our Environment
Remove is also an energizing word, and I know all who can will be participating in the May 6 Green Up Day to remove trash on the side of our roads. Vermontâ€™s Green Up Day celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020, and estimates that we have all removed over 24 million pounds of litter and 450,000 tires! Removing plastics, tires and all manner of litter keeps them out of our environment and their eventual entrance to waterways and the ocean. See you out there on May 6!
Fortunately, over time there has been a tremendous growth in organizations and movements that seek to challenge and change policy and work to develop sustainable ways to steward and protect the environment. These rallying efforts are strengthened by our participation and support.
Our larger faith homes have long been active in earth stewardship and environmental justice concerns. The United Church of Christ was an early environmental racism activist and continues today to fight against the sighting of toxic industrial facilities in communities of color. Many of these toxic industrial facilities are plastic incinerators and oil and gas refineries that produce the chemicals needed for the production of plastics.
And, Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church has long been a catalyst for economic and environmental sustainability projects around the world.
Both of our Faith homes would welcome our individual and collective participation and support.
I have used the Earthday.org website to learn and be able to share the information I have included here. They list many of the larger efforts to Rally and join in efforts to change policy locally and globally. Please use the Individual Action Tool Kit of EarthDay.org and find new steps to take on your Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Recycle, Remove and Rally journey.