A Material Girl Goes Green

Single Use Plastics

Episode Summary

We've all seen the pictures of the plastics EVERYWHERE!! Single use plastics are how that happened...listen to this episode to learn how you can swap, reduce, and reuse your way around some of these planet harming uglies!!

Episode Transcription

esley (00:07):

So hello, ms Jody. Hello, how are you today?

Jodi (00:51):

Doing well and you.

Lesley (00:52):

Awesome. I'm doing really good. So we are now on episode five. That is very exciting. So far all of our episodes have been talking much more broadly about the why's and the how's of living in ecofriendly lifestyle. let's start to dial in a little bit more on some more details of some of the biggest problems when it comes to our daily waste issues and for me, one of the biggest ones, and I know we've talked about it briefly, but it's single use plastics, right? Yes. That they're everywhere. So tell us exactly what is considered single use plastics.

Jodi (01:43):

Yeah. Single use plastics are, um, something that as a department we have chosen to focus on in the last year and a half or so. Two, because it is, it has become more, people have become aware of the problem, I'll put it that way. So, um,

Lesley (02:00):

and you look at them differently, like you're walking along the river or you're walking in the park, you start to see them everywhere.

Jodi (02:08):

you do once you start thinking about it and learning about it. Yeah. Yeah.

Lesley (02:12):

It's like buying a new car. You buy a Honda civic and suddenly everybody drives on the cinema. Right. They're everywhere. I mean those though that pollution from those are everywhere.

Jodi (02:21):

Yeah. And um, so single use plastics are, um, things that are created to be used once and disposed of. Um, they're your straws, your plastic utensils, your plastic water bottles, um, things like that. Okay. Okay. Fast food stuff. A lot of packaging. Right, right.

Lesley (02:44):

So obviously they're a huge problem. Talk us through, like what, what has the progression of that been? Where did that, I mean, obviously we're a consumer nation now, right? We're, we're a consumer world. We just consume so quickly. Where did the problems start?

Jodi (03:08):

If you go back to the 60s, that's when plastic, um, really started taking off as a convenience item. Our lifestyles and our society were kind of changing. We were more on the go, go, go and more, um, looking for convenient options, looking for quick options and truthfully, plastic has made our lives so much easier, so much more convenient in many ways. And there are many, ways that we, we can't get away from plastic now that, you know, that really helped protect our safety, like medical equipment and sanitation and keeping things, clean in plastic packaging. Right? But we're not really talking about that stuff. We're talking about this stuff that is made from petroleum and then shipped somewhere to be made into plastic pellets and then shipped somewhere to be made into a single use item and then shipped somewhere to be sold. And then ships, you know, somewhere to be consumed for moments at a time. it's a very energy intensive process in the resources that it uses, for just a moment of time. And then the items are thrown away. Typically they're not recyclable. So, they're throwing because they're so small that they're not recyclable. Yes. Their size and their, their composition cause they're typically not labeled with what they are. what kind of plastic, um, and I should say too that this, this applies to some of those things that are, labeled as compostable plastic tube because we don't really have a good handle on how to actually compost those items. And if they're out in the environment in different circumstances, a lot of times they actually don't break down. So, these are those things we don't know necessarily what they're made out of. Right? They're so small, they're so lightweight. Even if you have the best intentions and you throw that small item away, it could be a lid from a fast food drink. It could be that straw or that fork or that plastic wrap that was around something. It's so lightweight, in transporting from the trashcan to the trash truck to the landfill, there's a lot of opportunity for those items to blow away or to fall out of the container and get out into the environment. So it's their size. It's what's their ma, it's what they're made up and just the fact that these items are only used for a minute at a time, right? They don't, they just have started to pile up.

Lesley (05:52):

Right. Well, and even though those items are recyclable, in one of the many ways we've talked about already, so few are so few are actually like 9% or some really super low number of single use plastics or plastics in general are really recycled correctly to be. So, you know, it's a bad situation because of all the energy usage and resources that are used and all of that. And then more than likely they won't be recycled anyway.

Jodi (06:30):

Right. So a good example would be plastic water bottles. They are usually plastic number one or what number two, which is a good plastic to recycle. But the majority of those never make it to the recycling system, right?

Lesley (06:42):

Yeah. So avoidance basically. Right? Yeah. And I know back in the 60s, there was this huge, um, pollution campaign, and I'm sure we can all remember the Giv a hoot don't pollute and the Indian that's crying along the, um, and that's kind of, to me, I look back and I think, gosh, it felt like it was not bad, but it was something back then enough that they were doing, public service announcements, announcements on it, right. And now you look around and it's like, Oh my gosh, it's gotten so much worse.

Jodi (07:17):

I agree. I remember when littering was probably really taboo. Well, I remember when it was a problem, right? And then it became very taboo, right. Everyone was more aware of it. And then now it almost seems like it's had its comeback.

Lesley (07:31):

Right? Right. Like we need some more PSA. Yeah. So PSA here, right now, give a hoot, don't pollute and use those other alternatives to, to single use plastics, which we've talked about the eco swaps. If you haven't watched the episode, on the eco swaps, go back and take a, take a listen to that and we give tons of different ways you can swap things out. And what those, what those eco swaps for the single use plastics are, just to avoid them in the first place and so then let's get to the other part, which is when we were talking about the eco swaps, one of the things that you said is essentially those plastics never really go away,

Jodi (08:19):

Right? So, um, you might see online different graphics that say, you know, it takes 200 years where this plastic thing to break down, that's really misleading. Um, plastic never biodegrades it only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces of the same type of plastic. So, Mmm. Microplastics are something that we're becoming more aware of. Um, and some tests have recently come out with results of how much microplastics are in our environment. And it's pretty scary.

Lesley (08:56):

You can imagine. I mean, you see all of what we just talked about with the single use plastics, they're everywhere. So if none of them have ever broken down and they all have just become smaller particles and microparticles of them, their original composition, they have to be every where.

Jodi (09:17):

they are. Yeah. One study recently found that, um, people are consuming about a credit cards worth of plastic in the air, um, in the, in the food they eat and in the water they drink every week.

Lesley (09:32):

Oh my Gosh. Yeah. Yeah. And how are, I mean we talk a lot about how animals can be, harmed by plastics and in the water, microplastics and things like that. But our body ha, I mean, we don't have any idea how I can break those down depending on the particle size.

Jodi (09:53):

Science does not know the answer to how, what that will do to us yet. We do know that tiny particles of plastic are like magnets for more pollutants. So we know that toxic substances stick to those really well, which makes the plastic even more toxic to ingest.

Lesley (10:12):

So, Oh, that's horrifying. Yeah. That's awful. Oh my goodness. Um, so, um, so they never biodegrade they only break down into smaller pieces. we talked about the, the animals and how they can damage and destroy and you know, you've seen the pictures. I don't post a ton on our, on our Instagram and the material girl goes green Instagram because they, they just break my heart those animals that the, you know, the pop, the six pack thing gets wrapped around their head and they obviously died of starvation because they couldn't, they couldn't eat after that.

Jodi (10:55):

Yeah. And it's not just an ocean problem either. It's definitely a problem for all kinds of animals on land in the cities and in remote areas now too. So, um, yeah, just recently, we learned about a call, um, locally where a cat had his head stuck in a yogurt container and animal control had to go, help them and the cat was fine, but that's just, it's a symptom of, you know, just the things we're leaving laying around and, and just our overconsumption of these kinds of items.

Lesley (11:28):

Sure, absolutely. Um, so that single use plastics. In the scheme of things, one of the things that I've come to recognize and talking to people and, and really kind of getting into this a lot more, into this new lifestyle, it seems like one of the hardest eco swaps for people to make is the first one, right? There's not necessarily any one thing that one person will settle on, but it's like just making that first eco swap and beginning to move in to that new lifestyle where you're being more cognizant of it is that very first eco swap. If you were going to nail down of all the possibilities cause there's tons of them, right? There's tons of places we can start, right? What in your perfect world would be a person's first eco swap?

Jodi (12:33):

What I would think would probably be the plastic water bottles because, for whatever reason, some of us have been sort of conditioned to think that bottled water is healthier, but that's just not true. We're so lucky here in Indiana and Allen County that we have a great drinking water healthy. We have plenty of fresh water. if you're concerned about tastes or anything else, you can always filter it. but we have a great water supply and tap water's perfectly, perfectly good to drink, and better for you in some cases than some of the bottled waters. I was going to say when they tested some of the bottled waters that ultimately was tap water anyway, many times it is tap water put into bottles and sold. And then also there's leaching from the plastics.

Lesley (13:24):

Sure.

Jodi (13:24):

That that creates chemicals that are bad for you to drink. So especially if that of those cases of water have ever had a change in temperature, which most of them have during shipping for sure. Yeah, that breaks down the plastic and the chemicals. So, um, tap water is really healthier for you. So that's, that's a great place to start. Great. Is to stash yourself some reusable water bottles where you're going to need them in your car, keep it by the front door just give yourself a little reminders, put a post it note, you know, on your computer to remember to grab that bottle off your desk or whatever it takes. Just that is, that's a great place to start. Right?

Lesley (14:04):

And this one, them are so cute. yeah. Um, so I want to talk a little bit, I know just very recently, I think it was last Saturday, um, you went to a public airing of a PBS documentary called The Plastic Problem. Um, I love it. I actually stumbled across it a few weeks ago and, um, I have a couple links, but I'm gonna re link it. When we put this episode out there, I'll link it again, on our Instagram and our Instagram feed so everybody can, um, just have an easy way to, to pop in and take a peek at it. It is awesome. Like it breaks it down.

Jodi (14:48):

It's so good. So good. Um, and it takes a great approach too because it's a serious issue and, and it's an urgent issue, but it's not something that's too depressing or overwhelming. It presents it from a very easy to understand viewpoint in a very, um, Hey, this is what we can do. These are the steps we need to take.

Lesley (15:12):

And it felt very journalistic to me. Oh yeah. Journalistic perspective. My background is that, so that felt, I loved that part of it because they interviewed all the right people that would have all the right answers. Right.

Jodi (15:23):

Absolutely. And at what you can do from an individual all the way to as a society in. So yeah, it was a great, great movie.

Lesley (15:31):

So what questions did you get like you, that you think that all of us would love to know? Share your wisdom?

Jodi (15:38):

Great questions. It was an awesome audience. I was so impressed with how many people came out on a Saturday morning to watch a documentary. That's awesome. Um, but they were all people who want to make those changes. Um, I get a, I got a lot of questions about recycling. So, um, you know, first we need to reduce our use of single use plastics, then there are those items that you might get that, that are, a recyclable plastic. So in that sense there is a reuse if it's done correctly, and it won't, you know, go out into the environment. So, plastics that are good to recycle are number one, two and five. And the movie also spoke about creating a value, valuing that material because if we value it and we create something out of it, then it's not as likely to be, you know, just trash littered, right? So if we create a value chain around remanufacturing items out of that material, we can create an economy around it. Um, and it's an opportunity. So that was really interesting. try to avoid any plastics that are not those or that don't have a number, are not recyclable.

Lesley (17:03):

My husband, now that we've started to get into this, that one, two and five thing, we talk about it all the time, he's like, okay, two is two works. I've tried to come up with some kind of a like one, two and five to make the earth thrive or something that he can help remember. Right. Um, because yeah, and it's so easy because so many, at least from my perspective, most everything that's plastic that I look at, I can find that number somewhere. Right? So would, that is super helpful for me. so that is awesome.

Jodi (17:33):

And people wanted to know too, what happens to that stuff. So I think it's really important to see the whole cycle or know about the whole cycle of recycling plastics. So, um, we do have some manufacturing here in Allen County that makes, makes new things out of your recycled plastic. So they make things like carpet, upholstery, stuffing and like headliners for cars. So the fabric inside cars and then, your flexible film, plastics, the stuff that goes back to the grocery store, plastic bags that typically gets made into the plastic lumber. And we do have manufacturers in Indiana that do that. So these are ways you can contribute to the local economy. So awesome by recycling. And these are opportunities that we have to do some more of that domestic manufacturing since some of that stuff used to go to China and now it's not, so now we need to do something with it.

Lesley (18:32):

Yeah, it's all on. It's all on our shore now. So that's, that makes it critical. So well awesome, this was a so helpful. This, this information is just so helpful to me and I would say to all of our listeners, eco swab number one, if you're considering am I going to do it, what does that look like? What's the first step? Go buy a super cute water bottle that you can take with you everywhere that you go and not have to carry or not have to buy those plastic water bottles.

Jodi (19:05):

Yup. That's a good place to start.

Lesley (19:06):

Awesome. Thank you. We'll see you next time.

Jodi (19:09):

Alrighty.