Climate Action Collaborative: Let’s eliminate single-use plastics | VailDaily.com

Climate Action Collaborative: Let’s eliminate single-use plastics

Christy Buster
Valley Voices

More than 30 local businesses, organizations, and nonprofits in Eagle County have come together to take action on climate change. This group is called the Climate Action Collaborative and our sole objective is to reduce carbon emissions 25% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.

Reducing our carbon footprint requires many different actions in many different areas of our daily lives. We are working as the Collaborative to help educate locals and visitors alike about how to help us meet our goal. Today we’d like to help you better understand how to recycle properly in our community.

Recently we’ve made efforts to include better signage at community recycling centers while conducting table talks throughout the community to teach people about the “do’s and don’ts of recycling.” What we’ve found is that the most confusing and most prominent material in our local waste streams is plastic in some way shape or form.

According to Earth Day Network, as of 2018, every minute one million plastic bottles are purchased across the world, and that number is expected to jump to 500 billion by 2021.

Eight million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year. In 1997, marine researcher Charles Moore discovered the world’s first garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. For the majority of the past 22 years, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was the only known garbage patch, but new discoveries show each ocean now has its own floating garbage patch that consists mostly of plastics. This is a more than just a blight on our oceans, it’s of huge consequence to humans as we depend on our oceans for food and resources.

As plastics float in the ocean, they break down into microplastics which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Marine life, including the fish we eat, end up eating these microplastics and in turn, we end up ingesting them as well. Oceans cover the majority of our planet and it’s important we protect them from pollution.  Whether we are landlocked or seaside, our consumption of plastic has an impact on our own environment no matter where we live.

It’s time to stop utilizing single-use plastics that end up in the trash where they will remain on this planet, buried beneath dirt or washed into our oceans for centuries to come. If plastic doesn’t make it into the trash and is littered it will eventually find a permanent home in nature. It can take centuries for plastic to decompose and it’s taking a toll on our planet.

Every choice you make has an impact, whether it be significant or small, short or long-lived. Your decisions matter. You can make a difference, and here are a few tips on how:

  • There is a FREE app you can download on your phone called Eagle County Waste Wizard. This is a guide to prevent you from contaminating your recycle bin or community recycling centers.
  • When you are at the store, really observe the products you are buying. Is there a glass option when purchasing something that comes in plastic? There won’t always be an alternative, but being conscious of your choices at all times will help reduce the consumption of plastic.
  • Instead of saran wrap or plastic zip lock bags, get some re-usable glass containers or Tupperware to eliminate your single-use plastics.
  • If you like to use straws, get a reusable straw and put it in your purse.
  • Bring a mug for coffee or tea and a spoon, fork, and knife to work and leave it there so you won’t ever need to use a single-use utensil or cup.
  • Reuse your produce bags at the grocery store or get multi-use washable bags instead of using plastic bags.

With joint efforts of these simple life switches, we can make a difference, and yes you and your individual choices do matter. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one trying to save the planet, but you are not alone! All we can do is our best and encourage others to join us in making planet-wise decisions.

Christy Buster is a longtime Vail Valley local who works for Vail Resorts, which is a founding member organization of the Climate Action Collaborative.