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Plastic Straws, What’s the Hype and Why?

Starbucks says by 2020 it will eliminate plastic straws, turning to biodegradable straws and a newly designed lid. These new lids are made from polypropylene that can be recycled. The issue I see is would this not produce more plastic into the environment? Like the idea of reducing plastic straws, it is a thought, it is an action, it is a conversation to the bigger picture of conserving our environment.

So why are plastic straws bad for the environment?

Society has an over-reliance on single-use plastics, and the fact is that a lot of the stuff is ending up in our marine environment.

In one 2017 international coastal cleanup, 643,000 plastic straws were picked up around beaches and waterways all over the world. Straws only make up a fraction of our plastic waste. However, it is the easiest thing we can change now. It opens the door to understanding the impact of plastic, and it impacts on the environment.

All plastics ultimately sort of break down and fracture into smaller and smaller bits of plastic as a result of being tossed around by the waves, and the sunlight basically makes the plastic brittle. It creates what we call microplastics.

Microplastics are found on everything from the forage fish that are at the base of the food web up through the kinds of fish that we end up putting on our dinner plate.

Americans use an average of 1.6 straws per person per day that translates into 7.5 billion straws year. By the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. It takes 500 years for a single straw to decompose. In that time the plastic could potentially leak pollutants into the soil and water. Every year an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic go into our oceans, and it’s harming wildlife.

We need to be more thoughtful about how we use plastic. For starters pay closer attention to your personal practices. Get into the habit of carrying your own cup, fork, bag, and straw. That’s what I have in my bag at all times.

Decisions to make environmental friendly items or not use environmentally harmful pieces can make a positive impact. So, though the one straw may not make a real impact, the decision you make to not to use straws will change the awareness to the environment and how much a carbon footprint you leave behind.

Resources:
Business Insider, “Why Plastic Sucks,” https://www.businessinsider.com/why-plastic-straws-suck-ocean-pollution-sea-turtle-starbucks-2018-7

Ocean Conservatory: https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/volunteer/

Featured

Sustainable Fashion: Beginner’s Thoughts and Guide

My actions alone will not change the world. However, I like to think that it can influence someone to make a decision to help in the sustainability of the environment. If I start to make small changes, it’s like a revolution to my habits and ideas of the world.

As I mentioned in a previous post, fast fashion is currently the second biggest cause of pollution. Unmistakably, from the manufacturers of fabrics into the consumer’s closets, there is a responsibility to think about how we buy and dispose of clothes. I think it’s time for people to take action in their own lives we could all make little changes. There is no easy answer, so there is no way to be perfect. We just need to make small changes. If we all made little changes, it really would make a significant impact on the planet and our wallets.

Fast fashion is the production of an exorbitantly huge amount of garments. Fast fashion has to be a fashion no. It’s about looking at what we have and how to use it to create our own style in individuality. We have to think about what already exists. Some pieces have already been made that we can continue to enjoy healthily.

It’s about becoming smarter in your choices. It’s about thinking of the greater good and interweaving your mark, your style, your lesson while decreasing your dirty carbon footprint on the planet. It’s about buying kinder clothes that represent the people who created them, cut the fabric, sewed them together and then lands on you. The piece of item has a story, and the energy that comes from kinder pieces feels better than one created in a harsh environment to wear for a season or two.

  • I think about how can I look after that item more sustainably since I became wiser to the destruction of the fashion industry:
  • It’s refurbishing and mending a piece to give that item like a new lease of life.
  • It’s washing it at a cooler temperature is because of the majority of the energy the washing machines uses is just on heating the water.
  • It’s about recycling, regifting, or selling the clothes you no longer need or use.
  • It’s about thrifting instead of buying fast fashion. Try your best to keep it from hitting the landfills.

It’s about finding your style and not what the fashion industry tells you what’s in season. It’s an anyone fashion type world, and it’s here to make you feel good.

Through the search for ease and convenience, we’ve kind of lost that sense of human instinct which guides us to our creativity. Take something that’s already in existence and change it to make something new. The small steps you take now could lead to a better world and more sustainable life and can bring us back to the ebb and flow of creativity to survive. It’s already started, but you can join when you are ready. The earth and life on it will be grateful for your participation.

Featured

Fast Fashion – The Horror Story

So, on my decluttering journey, I realized that I owned a heck of a lot of clothes, half the items I never really wore and kept because I didn’t want to admit that I wasted many. As I continued with my journey, I wondered what happens to the clothes we donate, discard or don’t buy.

The fashion industry is putting too much product out there, millions of ton of clothes end up in landfill every year—it’s one of the fastest-growing categories of consumption in our society. Termed, “fast fashion” allows consumers to purchase extra, but consumers are wearing these fashion pieces less often and disposing of them at an abnormal rate. How can the fashion industry proceed to produce while not approaching the environmental requirement for people to purchase fewer clothes?

If you don’t believe me, here are some facts:

  • In 2015, the world produced roughly 155,000 square miles of fabric (about the size of California)
  • 80 billion items are manufactured every year
  • Globally, sorting plants like this only deal with around 25% of discarded clothes
  • On average only 20% of clothes are worn on a regular basis
  • Every year, we send about 85% of the textiles we purchase to landfill
  • The artificial fibers often preferred by fast fashion brands, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, are primarily plastic made from petroleum. This indicates that your discarded clothes could take up to a thousand years to biodegrade.
  • Fast fashion accounts for 10% of the planet’s greenhouse production
  • Each year 1.3 trillion gallons of water is used for fabric dyeing alone
  • Fast fashion is in second place as the dirtiest and most pollutant industry after oil
  • The US consumes about 1.2 million tons of clothing waste which is equal to 15 percent of the clothing sales in the country
  • On average, the global water footprint US is enough to fill over 1,200 bathtubs per household
  • The number of garments produced globally exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014
  • Over 50% of workers within the fashion industry are not paid the minimum wage in countries like India and the Philippines. Most workers are slaves or work in sweatshops and have very little human rights
  • Approximately 300 million people who produce cotton are still living in poverty

There is so much out there the support that fast fashion is horrible for the environment, yet we pretend that it isn’t a real problem. What can we do to help lessen the burden on the environment? It’s straightforward, here is what I suggest below:

  • Recycle or repurpose your old clothing
  • Choose quality over quantity—avoid cheap garments made from synthetic fabrics
  • Participate in clothes swap events, or exchange old clothing with friends and family
  • Spread the word about Fast Fashion impact on the environment
  • Simply do not buy from brands that participate in harming the environment or human rights
  • There is nothing wrong with thrifting for clothes, and you will save money too!

I hope you found this article insightful. If you have any suggestions or facts to add, please add them to the comments below.

References and Resources:

Fast fashion: How to make clothes last longer and save the planet (https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-47292087)
Fast Fas is harming the earth, MPs say (https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45745242)
What Is Fast Fashion? (https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/what-is-fast-fashion)
Fast Fashion Is Creating an Environmental Crisis (https://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/09/old-clothes-fashion-waste-crisis-494824.html)
By the Numbers: The Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of “Fast Fashion” (https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/01/numbers-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-fast-fashion)

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