Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eco-Friendly Picnicking

With the unofficial beginning of summer almost upon us in the US, many head out for picnics, cookouts, barbeques, and outdoor gatherings galore.  It's a great time of year, for sure. 

However, there is a down side.  Most of those picnics, etc., come with a lot of disposables-- plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc., that end up in the trash, adding up over time to billions of tons of garbage polluting our planet. 

According to the EPA, in 2003:

  • 970 thousand tons of paper cups and plates were discarded. If we approximate 15 grams weight for each cup or plate, we get 64 billion paper cups and plates being thrown away every year in the US.
  •  730 thousand tons of styrofoam and plastic plates and cups (710 thousand tons were styrofoam) were disposed. Using 10 grams weight for each cup or plate, we get 73 billion mostly styrofoam cups and plates being thrown away every year in the US.
  • A total of 3,810 thousand tons of plastic containers & bottles were thrown away. Using a generous number of 20 grams for each container, we get a number of 190 billion plastic containers & bottles being landfilled or incinerated every year.

The upside:  We can change this trend.  You and me.  We can take little eco-steps to keep these items out of our landfills.

As you head out for your Memorial Day cookouts, gatherings, picnics, what have you, please consider using biodegradeable plasticware or paper.  If you can't find biodegradables, try looking for those that are made from recycled products.  Better yet, go all out and treat yourself to "real" dishes and silverware.   Sure it may take a little bit longer to wash those dishes, but just think how good you'll feel about keeping all of that garbage out of the landfills!

Some additional resources and reading:

Clean Air Council

Biodegradable Plastic

Sustainability Solutions Institute

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