I like petroleum. I have to be honest, I know how often I use petroleum products every day.
I feel uncomfortable when I hear people blasting the “evil” petroleum industry and then you see them hop in a car or a jet and take off.
Hmmm, I wonder if their parents ever had the petroleum talk with them. You know the one: “Daddy, where does gasoline come from?”
Many of the products we use are made from petroleum, so let’s get real. All of these plastics that are essential to our lives are also petroleum products and we seem to be drowning in this stuff.
What we do need to do is to use these products wisely and create less waste. We also need to make sure that this type of waste does not end up as mismanaged trash (litter). Our lands and waterways are jeopardized by our poor practices and daily choice.
Trash from consumer goods makes up the majority of what eventually becomes debris that pollutes our waterways and oceans. The EPA’s Trash-Free
Waters program has several tips for reducing the volume of trash entering our waterways.
Bring your own bags: Say no to single use paper and plastic bags and bring your own reusable bag. Whether you’re picking up groceries, getting takeout food or clothes shopping, use your own bag. Each reusable bag can eliminate hundreds (even thousands) of single-use bags.
Carry a reusable bottle: Each week, Americans buy enough plastic water bottles to circle the Earth five times! Carrying your own bottle cuts waste and is cheaper. Typically, bottled water costs 2,000 times more than tap water.
Pack lunch: Do away with throw-away lunch packaging. Each child who brings a brown bag lunch to school generates 67 pounds of waste each year. And make waste-free lunches for work.
Bring a cup: The average American once used 500 paper cups a year. Replace your single-use paper, plastic or foam cups with a reusable cup or mug. Keep a cup in your bag, at the office or in your car so you always have one. Many coffee shops now offer a discount for bringing your own cup.
Dine in: One reason we have a food packaging problem is because people want to eat on the run, whether it’s a drive-through or take out. So it is time to slow down and dine in. And here is another idea: cook at home and enjoy a meal with friends and family.
Say no to straws or bring one: Plastic straws are consistently one of the most littered plastic items and they are harmful to fish and wildlife. If you really need one, get a reusable straw and bring it in your bag or shirt pocket.
Avoid heavily packaged foods: Heavily packaged foods (any heavily packaged product) are bad for the environment and usually unhealthy for humans. Buy and eat foods that aren’t heavily packaged, like fresh produce and consider buying food in bulk.
Bring containers and utensils: Need to grab lunch on the go? Bring your own container and utensils to cut down on “the other leftovers” the foam container, paper, bag and cup. You can also bring your own container for leftovers when you eat at a restaurant.
Communicate: Share what you’re doing with friends and family and encourage them to get involved. Write to companies of products you use that are over-packaged and tell them your concerns.
It is Father’s Day and a perfect day to make a commitment to set an example by incorporating these suggestions into your life. Start today to find ways to “unpackage” your life!