Plastic bag ban now in effect
Ordinances have started in Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and unincorporated Thurston County banning plastic carryout bags.
Learn more about these ordinances.
The concerns about plastic
One of the largest problem with plastics is improper disposal by consumers. Plastic items make their way into the environment, especially our oceans. It is on all our beaches and throughout all our waterways. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is filled with millions of pounds of trash, most of it plastic.
Plastics stay in the environment for a very long time. Most commonly used plastics do not mineralize (or go away) in the ocean and instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Because the ocean is a cold, dark place, this process happens slower in water than on land. Plastic can harm fish and other wildlife in two main ways:
Direct impacts—Studies show that fish and other marine life eat plastic because it often looks like their food: plastic bags/jellyfish; bottle caps/squid; plastic bits/fish eggs, etc. Plastics cause irritation or damage to the digestive system. If plastics are kept in the gut instead of passing through, the animal feels full (of plastic not food). They do not eat and this leads to malnutrition or starvation.
Indirect impacts—Plastic debris acts like a sponge. It accumulates pollutants up to 100,000 to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater. It is still unclear whether these pollutants can seep from plastic debris into the organisms that happen to eat the debris. More research is needed to help better understand these areas.
Do you know how the plastics you use affect your health and environment? It’s time to find out the steps you can take to reduce the impact. We have copies of the DVD to loan if you would like to coordinate a viewing for your church, neighborhood, or community group. Please contact Terri Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 867-2282. You can also rent the movie for home use on services such as Amazon or Netflix.
Ironically, the additives in plastics that make them great food containers are also the ones that cause health concerns.
Plastic water bottles: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a key building block for making polycarbonate plastics such as water bottles, with 2.3 billion pounds of it manufactured annually in the U.S. BPA has been shown to leach from the containers into the food it contains, and scientists have linked BPA exposure to health issues including cancers, immune disorders, hyperactivity, obesity, diabetes, and hyperactivity.
Plastic wrap and food packaging: Polyvinyl chloride and DEHP (a colorless liquid added for flexibility) are found in food wrap and packaging used for various foods such as milk, fish and oils. While low levels of these chemicals are believed to be harmless, high levels have been linked to asthma, liver and kidney damage, and reproductive problems. The Environmental Protection Agency believes that DEHP will eventually be proven to be a human carcinogen.
Cans: BPA is used to line cans to prevent corrosion and food contamination. Tara Parker-Pope states in her April 22, 2008 New York Times article, "A Hard Plastic Is Raising Hard Questions," that most human toxic exposure comes from canned foods. She says, "Virtually every canned product, even those labeled organic, has a liner with BPA."
Baby products: Millions of baby bottles and cans of baby formula, manufactured with BPA, have been sold annually for decades. Parker-Pope's article indicates that babies who drink from polycarbonate bottles ingest an estimated 10 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. Pacifiers and teethers can contain polyvinyl chloride (known as PVC or vinyl) or DEHP.
One of the best ways of reducing your impact is to become more aware of your consumption and production of trash. Reduce what you buy and avoid disposable products or those with excess packaging. Reuse what you can. Recycle all products that are accepted in our local programs.
Share your ideas with us at ThurstonSolidWaste@co.thurston.wa.us
Americans buy more bottled water than any other nation in the world, adding 29 billion water bottles a year to the problem. In order to make all these bottles, manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve month.
Imagine a water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. That’s about how much oil was needed to produce the bottle.
So why don’t more people drink water straight from the kitchen faucet? Some people drink bottled water because they think it is better for them than water out of the tap, but that’s not true. In the United States, local governments make sure water from the faucet is safe. There is also growing concern that chemicals in the bottles themselves may leach into the water.
People love the convenience of bottled water. But maybe if they realized the problems it causes, they would try drinking from a glass at home or carrying water in a refillable steel container instead of plastic.
Plastic bottle recycling can help—instead of going out with the trash, plastic bottles can be turned into items like carpeting or cozy fleece clothing.
Unfortunately, for every six water bottles we use, only one makes it to the recycling bin. The rest are sent to landfills. Or, even worse, they end up as trash on the land and in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Plastic bottles take many hundreds of years to disintegrate.
Water is good for you, so keep drinking it. But think about how often you use water bottles, and see if you can make a change.
And yes, you can make a difference. Remember this: Recycling one plastic bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours.
Knowing which plastics are recyclable can be tricky. There are so many different kinds and, unfortunately, not everything that features a recycle symbol is truly recyclable. It all depends on whether recycling plants will actually accept the materials, regardless of whether the manufacturers imprint the familiar "chasing arrow" symbol on the bottom. Please follow these guidelines when you place items in your curbside recycle cart or one of Thurston County's blue bin locations.
YES—put these items in your curbside recycle cart:
NO—these items do NOT go in your cart:
Call Terri Thomas at (360) 867-2279 or e-mail Thomaste@co.thurston.wa.us.
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