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What's not so convenient about take out dining
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What's not so convenient about take out dining

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What's convenient for us, is not always convenient for our planet. 

From salads at our desk to the late night takeout, plastic cutlery has become a growing habit. In fact, Americans use over 100 million plastic utensils each day. [1] With such low rates of reuse and recycling, the majority find their way to crowding landfills, or to our beaches and oceans - where they take over 200 years to decompose. [2]

With food delivery options like Uber Eats & GrubHub growing 20% each year, restaurants are providing billions of single-use plastics in the form of utensils, bags & food containers. A recent study in San Francisco showed that food and beverage packaging made up 67% of all litter on streets. [3]

Additional research has found plastic utensils as one of the two most dangerous plastics to our ocean habitat,[4]   as 90% of seabirds and 50% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. [5]  Other recent studies have shown that even some of the deepest sea creatures in the trenches of the Pacific Ocean are contaminated with fibers of plastic as well. [6]  Unfortunately for many animals, once they ingest plastic, their mortality rates drop to about 50%.

Unfortunately,  plastic cutlery is not recyclable which means our 20 minutes of use is offset by 200 years in time to degrade. Inconsistencies in material and an unorthodox shape challenges them to be universally accepted which means even if you do recycle, they may still find their way to a landfill.  [7] 

So - while plastic utensils are an easy go-to for eating out habits, we need to recognize that they are a significant contributor to our worldwide plastic problem and each person can make a difference.

Commit to eliminating your plastic utensil usage. A lifetime of utensils (1 set a day for 80 years) is nearly 30,000 sets in total. End your total today by carrying reusable cutlery. 


 

Sources:

 

1. Embree, Kari. “Eating Our Way out of the Plastic Waste Dilemma.” Plastics Today, 15 Apr. 2016, www.plasticstoday.com/packaging/eating-our-way-out-plastic-waste-dilemma/25470102124494.

2. “How Long Does It Take Trash to Decompose.” 4 Ocean, 20 Jan. 2017, 4ocean.com/blogs/blog/how-long-does-it-take-trash-to-biodegrade

3. Luna, Jenny. “Wait, We Toss out How Many Plastic Utensils Every Year?” Mother Jones, 6 July 2017, www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/07/are-alternate-utensils-for-take-out-an-envrioment-friendly-option/.

4. Platt, John R. “These Are the Most Dangerous Kinds of Plastic Polluting the Ocean.” Take Part, 14 Jan. 2016, www.takepart.com/article/2016/01/14/heres-most-dangerous-kind-plastic-ocean.

5. Feltman, Rachel. “More than Half the World's Sea Turtles Have Eaten Plastic, New Study Claims.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Sept. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/09/15/more-than-half-the-worlds-sea-turtles-have-eaten-plastic-new-study-claims/?noredirect=on&%3Butm_term=.773debc097ad.

6. Taylor, Matthew. “Plastics Found in Stomachs of Deepest Sea Creatures.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 Nov. 2017, www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/15/plastics-found-in-stomachs-of-deepest-sea-creatures.

7. Granger, Trey. “Recycling Mystery: Plastic Utensils.” Earth 911, 1 June 2018, https://earth911.com/home-garden/recycling-plastic-utensils/