Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reusing is better than recycling

I applaud our local youth of W.A.T.E.R. who worked hard on the bag ban. They are a smart, committed and successful group of people. They learned a lot about politics, community organizing, fundraising, lobbying, corporate power, local business, the media and environmental issues. They also learned about humans and how hard it is for us to change our consumption habits.

W.A.T.E.R. initiated an important community conversation about the pros and cons of recycling and reusing items and reducing human-produced garbage. There is a lot to learn, and I encourage everyone to watch the movie "Bag It." It stars an everyday guy who changes his habits after educating himself about the environmental impact of single-use items including plastic bags, plastic containers and water bottles, plastic and paper cups, and more.

Recycling is part but not all of the solution. According to "Bag It," plastic bag recycling is very toxic and uses a lot of energy. The movie also states that most of our plastic bags to be recycled are shipped across the ocean and are sorted by very poor labor in unsanitary conditions.

Using durable reusable items for as much as we can is a large part of the solution. Cloth bags, metal coffee cups, water bottles and reusable cold drink cups are all great options. They are sturdy, washable and last for years. In the long run, use of these items will save local businesses money and cause companies to change what they manufacture. Reusable cloth bags are easy to make or can be bought inexpensively from local or regional sources.

There are many of us who haven't used single-use paper or plastic shopping bags for years. Be resourceful. It is easy and fun. Change habits for our health and our future.

Tricia Swartling


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