Source: Erica Bryant – Democrat & Chronicle

What should a person who cares about the environment do? Here are three ideas.

1. Reuse.
Upset to learn that the glass jars you put in the blue bin aren’t being made into new glass jars? Some retailers will allow you to refill that little jar of cumin.
Many shoppers at Abundance Food Co-Op on South Avenue bring their own containers to buy bulk products including spices, rice, flour, tea, nuts, grains, beans, coffee and granola. Your container is weighed before you fill it so that you are not charged for its weight. The Co-op has offered this option since it opened in 1974 and General Manager Jim DeLuca estimated that about 25% of customers take advantage.
The store does offer plastic containers that cost 25 cents, but DeLuca says that most people don’t bring in their own containers for the savings. “I think most people do it because of the sustainability,” he said.
Reusing is always better for the environment than recycling, because it doesn’t require any energy to break down and reconstitute the item.

2. Don’t wishcycle.
Wishcycling refers to the behavior of people who really, really want certain items to be recycled — lawnmower blades, old fake Christmas tree parts, plastic bags — so they toss them into the curbside recycling bin. With the recycling markets so tight, it is extremely important to avoid contaminating the recycling stream with items that aren’t recyclable.
Now more than ever, it is important to put some thought into what you put in the blue bin. Plastic shopping bags are recyclable but must be returned to a retailer for recycling.
Remember that not all plastic is recyclable.

3. Avoid single-use plastic items.
We don’t know what is going to happen to the recycling markets. We know that single-use plastic items, like straws and plastic bags, are wreaking havoc on the environment and should be avoided.
• New Yorkers use about 23 billion single-use plastic bags each year.
• Over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States.
“In only the past 20 years, people have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience,” says the Plastic Pollution Coalition. “These short-lived tools are usually dropped into a garbage can with no further thought, instantly becoming a source of plastic pollution.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill to ban all single-use plastic carryout bags, except for garment bags, trash bags and bags used for certain foods. There was also a proposed bill to ban single-use plastic straws and drink stirrers at restaurants and bars.

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