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A Plastic World

Plastics were invented in 1907 and they are most commonly derived from petrochemicals. Due to their relatively low cost and versatility, plastics replaced many traditional materials and are used for a huge variety of purposes. As wonderful as plastic has been, the world is now faced with adverse environmental effects.

Certainly plastics play an important role in society; however the use of plastics has led to environmental concerns regarding its slow rate of decomposition, the ability of plastics to get into the food chain, and plastic pollution. Many plastic items can be recycled, but plastic litter is everywhere: flapping on tree branches, floating in the air, swirling in the oceans and the Great Lakes, and digested by animals. ''Not only are plastics pervasive in our society in terms of daily use, but they are pervasive in the environment,'' stated researcher Sherri Mason. ''Plastics are ubiquitous, in the air, water, the seafood we eat, the beer we drink, the salt we use — plastics are just everywhere.''

Initiatives to reduce the use of plastic bags have become a worldwide focus. Some countries in Africa, Asia and Europe have banned plastic bags. A few states in the U.S. and a few countries in South American have imposed a tax or placed a partial ban on plastic bags. Reusable bags are encouraged and their use is catching on.

In Cuyahoga County, Councilwoman Sunny Simon will introduce legislation supporting a single use plastic/paper bag fee at the full Council meeting on Tuesday, October 10th at 5pm. The legislation will subsequently be discussed at the Education, Environment & Sustainability committee meeting on Wednesday, October 18th at 3pm. The public is invited to attend the meetings, which will be held in the Council Chambers, 2079 East 9th Street in Cleveland.

On Saturday, October 14, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club and West Shore FaCT (Faith Communities for a Sustainable Future) are cosponsoring the screening of "Plastic Ocean", a film about the devastation of single use plastic objects. The film will be shown at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20104 Hilliard Blvd, Rocky River at 7:00 p.m. and all are invited. 7-9 p.m. You will be shocked at what you see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of information about plastics, plastics pollution and recycling on the web. For information about plastic pollution visit: http://plastic-pollution.org/ . To learn more about recycling in Cuyahoga County visit http://cuyahogarecycles.org. Do what you can to reduce waste. You can also get involved in local neighborhood, street and beach clean ups—especially in the spring and summer months. Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District hosts cleanups around the county. Visit http://www.cuyahogaswcd.org/events for program listings.

We are all stakeholders and it is up to all of us to participate in keeping our neighborhoods and waterways safe and clean.

Blog author: Janine Rybka, District Administrator

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