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  • Susan Russell

Plastics and the future of our Planet: Plastic-free July is here!

When it comes to the everyday in our lives,like shopping, cooking, dining out and disposing of containers, plastic is usually involved. And, it’s a gift that just keeps on giving! So one asks, what is do-able on a personal, family or community level to essentially reduce plastic’s impact on ecosystems and human health? What makes for a safer, healthier, sustainable community and region?

A.C.E.S. Leader Ellen Neumaier has noted, “the cost of prevention is a lot less than what it takes to clean up afterwards.” Plastic accounts for nearly all packaging that cannot be reused or effectively recycled, and it contributes to climate change during every stage of its life cycle. Plastic is also typically produced in low-income communities, which suffer toxic pollution that contributes to disease, poverty, and lower quality of d. New York has 10 waste incinerators, harming communities with heavy metals and greenhouse gas emissions. New Yorkers want change. A 2022 poll found that 88% of New York voters are concerned about single-use plastic products and support local and state policies that reduce the.

The initiative to reduce single-use plastics in East Aurora and surrounds, “B.Y.O.C” invites you to bring your own container with when you pick up a coffee, take-out food or end up with that doggy-bag from a local restaurant. However, you can even go a bit deeper to reduce packaging in the food system. Some include:

- Buying in bulk when you shop - Buying unpackaged fruits and veggies when you visit grocery stores or bring your own bags to Farmers’ markets - Upcycling and Reusing packaging for repurposing, when safe, - Recognizing the costs and connections in the food you enjoy, serve and dispose of.

-Composting when and where you are able.

An average of 6.8 million tons of packaging waste is produced every year in N.Y. state alone, and that’s 40% of our total waste stream, in total. Then, of course, there are the human costs, impacting our health and well-being. Emissions from food scraps in our landfills, incinerated plastic and litter from our streets and beaches leaving particulates in our lungs and residual micro-plastics from the air we breathe and water we drink. In short, the cost of dealing with all of this packaging and plastic is shouldered by the taxpayer, in more ways than one.

What one can do, NOW, is participate in Plastic-free July. As individuals we alone can’t eliminate toxic chemical compounds hidden in packaging materials, but each of us, children and adults alike can adjust our purchasing to minimal packaging.

We can say good-bye to take-out containers and visit these sites for up-to-date information and inspiration like: (Plastic Pollution toolkit), www.aces East (A.C.E.S).

And on August 5, at Hamlin Park, here in East Aurora, A.C.E.S.will host a Summer’s Eve Zero Waste Picnic, from 6-8 PM. All are welcome. Remember, each step we take together strengthens our community.

-submitted by Michele Bjella, A.C.E.S. member

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