Choose To Refuse Single-Use Plastics

Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final installment in a series of articles on the issue of plastics written by Melody Tennant and Bonnie Bernstein.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

– Robert Swan, British polar explorer and environmentalist

In a market governed by supply and demand – and that includes the local supermarket – we as consumers can have a big impact, especially if we take action together.

Rockbridge area citizens are invited to join communities worldwide in a campaign to Choose to Refuse Single Use Plastics. Our local campaign begins next month with a plastics audit to estimate SUP usage countywide and culminates in July with a month-long challenge to refuse to use single-use plastics.

Plastics: Miracle And Menace

The campaign is especially timely as we emerge from a pandemic year that resulted in epidemic use of single-use plastics, including personal protective equipment (PPE masks and gloves) for frontline workers, and even a temporary return to plastic grocery bags. As things go back to normal, we have an opportunity to create a new normal – one in which we consumers forego use of SUPs and choose better environmental alternatives.

Here are some ways you can choose to participate in the campaign:

Participate in a plastics audit in May. How much plastic is wasted on the average in a single month in Rockbridge? Schools, churches, businesses, retirement homes and households are invited to participate in a plastics audit. Participants commit to collecting plastic waste during the full month of May, then deliver it to RCHS on June 5 during a Plastics Pile-On event. You can sign up now to participate on the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council’s website, https://www.rockbridgeconservation.org.

Join the Plastics Pile-On on June 5 – and donate extra reusable bags if you have them. Households participating in the plastics audit bring the plastics they saved to RCHS, where volunteers will measure the volume. Results of the audit will be published in The News-Gazette and social media. Families will be greeted by Flippy, a life-sized mesh whale sculpted by Jay Sullivan and stuffed to the gills with plastic waste. Donations of reusable bags will be collected to distribute free to customers at local supermarkets in July.

Choose to Refuse Single Use Plastic in July. Rockbridge county and city residents are challenged to join the campaign and “Choose to Refuse Single Use Plastics” during the month of July. That means making a personal commitment to:

• Bring reusable bags and use them for every grocery and store visit.

• Buy food packaged in glass or cans rather than single-use plastic containers.

• Refuse to buy fresh foods packaged in nonrecyclable plastic. Request to have meats, cheese and fish wrapped in paper instead. Buy loose, unpackaged produce whenever possible.

• Choose to refuse plastic straws, forks, spoons, and non-compostable containers at restaurants for eating in and taking-out.

During the campaign, we’ll explore ways we can make do with less plastic and less packaging. By refusing to use SUP, we’ll do our own small part toward reducing the amount of plastic waste on the planet – even reducing carbon emissions from the manufacturing that won’t go into producing them.

The Choose to Refuse Single Use Plastics campaign is spearheaded by RACC with participation from Boxerwood, 50 Ways Rockbridge Environmental Committee, First Baptist Church, Main Street Lexington, Metta Meals Restaurant, North Rockbridge Women’s Club, Rockbridge Community Health Foundation and Rockbridge Master Gardeners.

The News-Gazette

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P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

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