Lenten Ecology, Prayer, and Practice – Week 5: March 22 – 28

Reducing Use of Plastic

Here is a printable one page version of the below information: 2021 Lenten Program WEEK 5

Here is a printable one page version of the below information (large font): 2021 Lenten Program WEEK 5

Reflection and Action

  • One estimate is that 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950 of which 6.3 billion tons is waste. No more than 10% of plastic ever made has been recycled. Much plastic ends up in land-fills or as debris.
  • Plastic can take centuries to degrade: Estimates are that a foam plastic cup will degrade in 50 years, a plastic beverage holder in 400 years, and a disposable diaper in 450 years. As plastic degrades, it releases greenhouse gasses.
  • Plastic garbage “patches” in the oceans are as big as 1000 miles in diameter and the combined volume of plastics in the ocean is estimated to be the size of Antarctica. Plastic may be ingested by marine mammals, fish and sea birds. One projection is that there could be more plastic in oceans than fish by 2050. The Global Oceanic Environmental Survey projected that eco-systems in seas and oceans could collapse in the next 25 years due to plastic, acidification, and pollution.
  • Most plastic is made from fossil fuels. Communities near petrochemical plants are exposed to toxic chemicals in air, water, and soil. The EPA estimates that 150 catastrophic accidents (fires or explosions) occur yearly in such plants. Current projections are that plastic plants may triple in number by 2050. Many plants are located along the Gulf Coast near less wealthy communities with higher concentrations of people of color.
  • Micro-plastics float throughout the world’s freshwater and marine environments, in sediments, soil, food, humans and wildlife. Micro-plastics come from micro-fibers in clothing, micro-beads, and plastic pellets.

Some plastic is clearly beneficial—for example in medical supplies such as IV bags, tubing, oxygen masks, catheters, etc. However, many writers refer to a “plastic crisis” and the above data is very troubling. Two websites to investigate are #breakfreefromplastic and Alliance to End Plastic Waste. As consumers, there are many options to avoid single-use plastic: Use a cloth bag for groceries. Soda and sparkling water can be purchased in aluminum cans. Peanut butter, salad dressings and pasta sauces can be purchased in glass containers. At co-ops, foods can be purchased in bulk and put in re-usable containers. We can consider purchasing cotton clothing. Eggs are available in compostable paper containers instead of Styrofoam. We can mail packages using old newspapers instead of Styrofoam peanuts. Bamboo toothbrushes are available. The Tare Market sells waste-free dental floss in non-plastic containers and the floss itself is compostable.

Please join Earth Partners for a Zoom meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30, to pray and to discuss our Lenten experience.

Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 859 4073 8274
Passcode: 204744