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    • I am a rabid environmentalist and recycler but every day I seem to be involved with more and more plastic.

      I try to recycle everything every bit of plastic I can but there are a couple of problems with that. First, not all plastic is recyclable and secondly, even recycling the plastic that can be recycled does not seem to be a great solution. Shipping plastic around, dumping it in overcrowded recycling centers far away, and then trying to reuse it in a worthwhile way don't seem to be working as well as we would like.

      Preventing the use of plastic in the first place seems a better way to go.

      A creative leader in this and other environmental issues is photographer Ben Von Wong. One my favorite campaigns of his is "Mermaids Hate Plastic." His behind the scenes efforts to use photography to motivate us to use less plastic are fascinating.

      Encouraging folks to use less plastic is a great beginning and a worthwhile cause but difficult to practice.

      So I was excited to read this article about replacing plastic in simple and environmentally friendly ways.

      Luckily I live in a location where we are pretty much forced to use reusable grocery shopping bags unless we want to pay each time for a plastic one. I am happy to have and use them these reusable bags. We now have a collection and keep plenty in each vehicle to be handy.

      Our town is also moving towards no more single use plastic straws, which I fully support. I use a stainless steel straw myself at home and I think there are ones out there with cases of some sort so you can bring them with you when you go out.

      I am also curious about reusable produce bags since we seem to be always accumulating plastic ones when I shop for fruit and veggies. I am not sure if my local produce stand is set up to use the tare weight on the bags but I am willing to pay the extra I think. So those might be my next purchase and trial. Amazon has several options. I will post on here my thoughts after I try them. If anyone has tried some I would love to read about their thoughts.

      I would love to read about other innovative ways to help the environment.

    • As a former geophysicist with several years in water testing, I'm flabbergasted at the unimaginable amount of plastic entering everything — oceans, landfill, groundwater, runoff... Even the air we currently breath in California with all the neighborhoods going up in flames has toxic smoke from plastics.

      I stare in disbelief at how casual we are about the amount of plastic we cart out of Costco for almost everything, including apples. We stopped buying fruit there for that reason, but it has probably helped sell more because so few people realize this cannot go on forever.

      I don't know what's to be done because consumers love plastic packaging. And so far biodegradable plastics are a fraught proposition:

    • I would love to read about other innovative ways to help the environment.

      Not using plastic in the first place - where it can be avoided - is obviously the best solution. Where that is not possible, or not well-received by the general public, other ideas to help the environment are about at least trying to remove plastic where it already exists in form of litter.

      There are projects trying to do this on a big scale, for example:

      but there are also ideas how picking up litter could be added to everyone's daily life, for example in the form of "plogging" (picking litter while jogging). Our town, for example, has some groups that meet for a "cleanup day" in the spring to clean up their neighborhood. The problem with this is the idea of someone else littering while "you and I" have to do the work of cleaning up again.

      Still, I think that if everyone cared about their little part of the world a bit more, it would be better for all of us. I actually built an app for that sort of thing ("reporting problems in the neighborhood"), but I'm still looking for a good way to include an incentive for people to not just report but simply pick up some litter they might find.

    • Now that China no longer takes plastic waste from places like the U.K., they have an enormous problem: around 1,000,000 tonnes of plastic waste they now have to either bury or burn. The debate rages because burning helps recover some of the energy that was expended in making the plastic in the first place, but it releases pollutants into the atmosphere. Burying releases pollutants into the ground and waterways.

      The head of Greenpeace says if we're having this debate, we have already lost. We need to reduce, reuse and reclaim, not debate between burning or burying.

    You've been invited!