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Plastic Reduction Resources

Here are some helpful videos, links to articles related to the plastic problem and what to do about it, and first-person stories on source reduction efforts.

If you have a personal story to tell about how you are working to address the problem with plastic, send it in (preferably with photos) to info@greenfriendsna.org.

Helpful Videos

The Plastic Bag Diet

From the Story of Stuff Project, it's not that plastic waste in our world is mismanaged; it's that there is so much plastic being produced that it's unmanageable.

wimmer focuses on plastic pollutiion After Abandoning Pacific Ocean Crossing, Swimmer Shifts Focus To Plastic Pollution

Here & Now reports on a long-distance swimmer recently gave up his quest to cross the Pacific Ocean, but he's continuing his mission with a new focus: documenting the extent of plastic pollution on Earth.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

NBC News reports on one of the most little known, but greatest environmental catastrophes in the world today.

What really happens to the plastic you throw away? What Really Happens to the Plastic You Throw Away?

In this animated video, Emma Bryce traces the life cycles of three different plastic bottles, shedding light on the dangers these disposables present to our world.

The Plastic Ocean

A heart wrenching (and at times disturbing) video from the United Nations on the amount of plastic in the ocean.

How Much Plastic is in the Ocean? How Much Plastic is in the Ocean?

A PBS video on what can you do to make the oceans plastic-free.

The Battle of the Bag

A CBC documentary on international efforts to prohibit plastic bags.

The Story of Bottled water The Story of Bottled Water

From The Story of Stuff Project, an illustrative animated video on bottled water and how to avoid buying it.

The Plastic Gyre The Plastic Gyre

A Special Edition series for GSU TV exploring the perils of plastic pollution and the great plastic garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Takeout Takes a Lot of Trash Takeout Takes a Lot of Trash

Takeout food generates an enormous amount of single-use waste, but it doesn't have to.


Articles and Websites

The Garbage Cafe
Photo by Amrit Dhillon
The Cafe in India That Gives Food in Exchange for Plastic

The Guardian - The Garbage Cafe in Ambikapur, India, is helping to tackle the country’s plastic waste problem gives a meal to anyone who brings in plastic waste.

Planet Plastic

Rolling Stone - How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, has been trumpeting the risk: “We are consuming a credit card’s worth of plastic each week,” Udall says. At events with constituents, he will brandish a Visa from his wallet and declare, “You’re eating this, folks!”

Microplastics in tea bags

Photo by Olena Sergienko

A Single Tea Bag Can Leak Billions of Microplastics Into Your Cup

CNN - Plastic tea bags are shedding billions of shards of microplastics into their water. According to a new study, a single bag releases around 11.6 billion microplastic particles into your cup.

Plastic fishing nets The Dangers of Plastic Pollution to Marine Life

The garbage that humans leave behind as a by-product of civilization and consumption is becoming an environmental hazard not only to the land, but also to the world's oceans, seas, and waterways.

You're ingesting microplastic You’re Ingesting More Than 70,000 Microplastic Particles Each Year

CNN - New research suggests Americans eat, drink and breathe between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles each year.

Plastic Has a Big Carbon Footprint

NPR - Emissions from plastics production and incineration could account to 56 billion tons of carbon between now and 2050 - almost 50 times the annual emissions of all of the coal power plants in the U.S.

The final resting place of recycled plastic The Final Resting Place of Recycled Plastic

CNN - 40% of the non-bottle mixed plastic that we recycle is not recycled.

It’s Time to Rethink How Recycling is Done It’s Time to Rethink How Recycling is Done

China doesn’t want to sort your trash anymore. The NIB explains the recycling crisis.

Recycling Chaos The World's Recycling Is in Chaos

Wired - Since China banned the import of most plastics, plastic imports have plummeted by 99 percent, leading to a major global crisis in how to deal with plastic recycling

Micrsoplastic found in the Pyrenees Microplastic Found Even In The Air In France's Pyrenees Mountains

NPR - Surprisingly high amounts of microplastic are raining down on France's Pyrenees mountains, according to scientists who say such particles could potentially be floating everywhere.

Can Bacteria Build a Better Plastic? Can Bacteria Build a Better Plastic?

NPR - A Silicon Valley startup is trying to get the plastic out of clothing and into biopolymers that can be broken down into natural materials.

Your Questions About Plastic Waste, Answered

NPR answers commonly asked questions about plastic, how and what gets recycled, biodegradable plastic, ways to help plastic reduction and more.

Loop - A Mission to Convert to Reusable Packaging Loop - A Mission to Convert to Reusable Packaging

CNN - Majoir corporations partnering on a potential solution known as Loop to limit future waste.

Davos - This Is Outrageous

Washington Post editorial - Christiana Figueres and Greta Thunberg take on the World Economic Forum with a three-step “find and replace” exercise for leaders gathered in Davos.

More Plastic Than Fish in the Sea by 2050

The Guardian - As a record-breaking sailor, Dame Ellen MacArthur has seen more of the world’s oceans than almost anyone else. Now she is warning that there will be more waste plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, unless the industry cleans up its act.

A List of Every City in the US to Ban Plastic Bags - Is Yours Included?

Forbes Magazine says there are estimates that a plastic bag has a 12-minute lifespan from when it's initially filled with groceries at the grocery store to when it is discarded. Here is a list of 349 known cities, counties, and states to have, in some way, banned or taxed plastic bag use.

Undercover Plastic Detective Undercover Plastic Detective

Anita Horan goes undercover to a recycling plant in Australia to try and unravel the secret the plant is trying to hide. Is recycling an effective method to deal with the enormous amount of waste that we constantly generate?

Using Plastic-Free Produce & Bulk Signage to Reduce Plastic Consumption

Nature has amazing packaging. Fruits and vegetables like bananas, avocados, lemons, potatoes, etc. in a plastic bag is totally pointless. Eva Pollard and Rebecca Miller use signs in the produce dept. to encourage shoppers to go plastic-free.

Clean Our Oceans Clean Our Oceans: The Impact of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A comprehensive article on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - how it was created, the impact of it, how to reduce marine pollution and a variety of other helpful resources.

Reducing Plastic as a Family Is Easy

Many children care deeply about wildlife. Small changes to your family’s routine can empower your children to make a real difference in the fight against plastic.


Microplastics in Every Sea Turtle Study Finds Microplastics in Every Sea Turtle

CNN - Plastic was found in the gut of every single sea turtle examined in a new study, casting fresh light on the scale of plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

Microspastics in Ocean Scientists Say Microplastics in Oceans Far Worse Than Feared

The Guardian - A study reveals highest microplastic pollution levels ever recorded in a river in Manchester, UK and shows that billions of particles flooded into the sea from rivers in the area in just one year.

How to Recycle Styrofoam How to Recycle Styrofoam

Each year the US alone produces some 2 billion pounds of Styrofoam - none of which can be recycled. Read how a team of school kids won the Google Science Fair for developing a process to convert Styrofoam into activated carbon for purifying water.

Are all plastics bags recyclable? What Kinds of Plastic Bags Can be Recycled?

Are all plastics bags recyclable? Are their differences between plastic bags? How are you supposed to know? This great resource explains both where and how to recycle plastic bags.

Microplastics Found in Human Stools Microplastics Found in Human Stools

Austrian scientists monitored and tested stool samples from eight study participants from different countries and all of them tested positive for at least one form of microplastic.

European Parliament Approves Ban on Single-Use Plastics
Matt Dunham/Associated Press
European Parliament Approves Ban on Single-Use Plastics

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly approved a ban on single-use plastics such as straws, plates, cutlery and cotton-swab sticks in Europe by 2021, joining a global shift in halting the use of materials that are detrimental to the planet.

Our Clothes Are Part of the Ocean Pollution Problem Ocean Plastic Pollution - Why Our Clothes Are Part of the Problem

More than ever, our clothes are made of plastic. Synthetic plastic fibers such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers are now about 60 percent of the material that makes up our clothes worldwide. And guess where they end up after being washed?

Pakistan Urges Innovative, Cost-Effective Solutions to Tackle Plastic Pollution Pakistan Urges Innovative, Cost-Effective Solutions to Tackle Plastic Pollution

WWF - Pakistan initiated a national competition in collaboration with UN Environment Program’s Clean Seas campaign,as a three-staged start-up competition aimed at supporting technology oriented solutions that provide innovative solutions for mitigation of plastic pollution.

Can Squid Solve Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans? Can Squid Solve Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans?

CNN - Proteins found in squid can be used to create sustainable alternatives to plastics, according to a report published in Frontiers in Chemistry in February.

Scientists Hope New Enzyme Will Eat Plastic Pollution Scientists Hope New Enzyme Will Eat Plastic Pollution

Researchers from Britain's University of Portsmouth and the US Dept of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) made the discovery of a plastic-eating enzyme while examining the structure of a natural enzyme.

Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere

Microplastics are as objects smaller than 5 millimeters .They're in oceans, rivers and lakes. They're also in soil, drinking water, beer,sea salt, fish and shellfish.

Plastic pollution Plastic Pollution: a New Source of Warming Gasses

Researcher Sarah-Jeanne Royer set out to measure methane gas coming from biological activity in sea water. Instead, she found that the plastic bottles holding the samples were a bigger source of this powerful warming molecule than the bugs in the water.

An Indian State Bans Plastic Bags An Indian State Bans Plastic Bags, Straws and More

From June to September, monsoon rains fall on Mumbai, India's largest city, but they also bring an unwelcome visitor: tons of garbage with most of it plastic.

Americans Use an Estimated 500 Million Straws Each Day, Americans Use an Estimated 500 Million Straws

A curious fourth grader who had just started an environmental project to discourage restaurants from providing straws, came up with the statistic of 500 million straws per day.

Starbucks is Eliminating Plastic Straws Starbucks is Eliminating Plastic Straws

Starbucks announced on July 9 that it will phase out plastic straws from all of its stores by 2020. The changes will help Starbucks eliminate more than 1 billion plastic straws per year.

Last Straw for Plastic Straws The Last Straw for Plastic Straws

Slurping up smoothies, sodas and slushies through disposable plastic straws could one day become a thing of the past. The call to toss plastic straws out of our food system is growing louder and louder.


Re-using Plastic Bags Re-using Plastic Bags

Wonderful and totally do-able. Simple guidelines with pictures on easy ways to wash, dry, and store used plastic bags.

Plastic Pollution Is Killing Coral Reefs Plastic Pollution Is Killing Coral Reefs, 4-Year Study Finds

A sobering new study shows that reefs in four countries, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar are heavily contaminated with plastic that is killing them.

Europeans Ban Single-Use Plastics
Ban on Single-Use Plastics Approved by European Parliament

CNN - The European Parliament has approved a law banning a wide-range of single-use plastic items, such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery, by 2021.

Earth911 Recycling Guide
Earth911 Recycling Guide

The best way to recycle packing peanuts, plastic bags, cap & lids, jugs & bottles and plastic wrap & film: Earth911 Recycling Guide (click on Plastic)

The Styrofoam Dilemma Now and Forever: The Styrofoam Dilemma

While it is possible to recycle the plastic foam, the cost is prohibitive and the material seemingly lasts forever.

NOAA Marine Debris Program NOAA Marine Debris Program

Plastics can enter into the marine environment a number of ways: through ineffective or improper waste management, intentional or accidental dumping and littering on shorelines or at sea, or through storm water runoff.

McDonalds to Ditch Foam Packaging McDonald's to Ditch Foam Packaging

By the end of 2018, McDonald's says it will ditch foam cold-beverage cups and trays in every location around the world. The company also plans to use 100% recycled fiber-based packaging globally by 2020.

Solutions on Plastic in our Oceans The Issues, Facts, and Possible Solutions on Plastic in our Oceans

Just like when your dentist says you can avoid further problems with your gums if you brush better and floss often, a change in how we live could be the catalyst for cleaner oceans in the future.

Every Brand of Bottled Water Contains Microplastics Nearly Every Brand of Bottled Water Contains Microplastics

In 93% of plastic water bottles, researchers found more than 10 pieces of plastic thicker than a human hair and hundreds of smaller pieces.

Even Sea Salt Contains Microplastics

Even Your Sea Salt Contains Microplastics

Sea salt may be healthy and rich in minerals, but a new study found it is also rich in plastic. A team of researchers tested 17 sea salt brands from eight different countries and found that only one brand was plastic-free.


User Success Stories

PNW February 2016 Newsletter One Piece at a Time

Karuna Poole details how folks in Seattle have dealt with the seeming indestructibility of plastic.

Reusing grocery bags Reusing Grocery Bags

Beth Adler has committed to bringing her own, reusable grocery bags to the store

Buying Less Plastic - Part 1 Buying Less Plastic - Part 1 Dishsoap

An average family without a dish washer could go through at least a bottle of Eco dish detergent a month. Vandita Smith details how you can make your own dish soap and never have to buy a plastic bottle of it again.

Buying Less Plastic - Part 2 Buying Less Plastic - Part 2 Multipurpose Cleaner

Vandita Smith explains how to make homemade Multi-Purpose Cleaner that is incredibly cheap to make and very effective. This article shows how much the average family spends in N. America. It’s a surprising amount.

Buying Less Plastic - Part 3
Buying Less Plastic - Part 3 Laundry Detergent

By making our own recipes instead of buying commercial detergent products, we reduce the burden of harmful chemicals on the environment, along with reducing purchase of single use plastics. Vandita Smith explains how you can make your own laundry detergent.

Buying Less Plastic - Part 4
Buying Less Plastic - Part 4 Hand Sanitizer

Overuse of antibacterial ingredients - like triclosan - is helping create superbugs. Our increasing obsession with avoiding germs could actually be making us sick. Softeners are also designed to stay in clothes and not fully rinse out, which means lingering chemicals come into contact with skin. Vandita Smith shows how you can make your own eco hand sanitizer .

Making sleeping mats from PLARN Reusing Plastic Bags to Create Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

This article shows Edmunds OK reuses plastic bags to create plastic sleeping mats for the homeless. The mats are made out of PLARN (Plastic Bag Yarn).

We've Got the Health of the World In Our Hands We've Got the Health of the World In Our Hands

A musical rendition of how we've got to reduce and replace by MA Center DC's Amrita Bala Kendra.

Pacific Northwest Tackles Plastic Source Reduction Pacific Northwest Tackles Plastic Source Reduction

The 3 Step Plastic Challenge is now underway and the Northwest Region is off to a rockin' start! Read about an effort for a statewide beach clean-up, focusing on plastic cleanup at Nye Beach in Newport,OR.

MA Center Atlanta addresses plastic source reduction 5 Ways MA Center Atlanta is Implementing Source Reduction

From forming a recycling program for hard-to-recycle items, to conducting an ashram audit for plastic, to increasing awareness of plastic usage, MA Center Atlanta is addressing plastic source reduction.

MA Center Chicago and the Plastic Challenge MA Center Chicago Responds to the Plastic Challenge

Individuals from the Chicago ashram step up to the plate to implement source reduction

Beeswax alternative to plastic wrap Make Your Own Non-Plastic Wrap

MA Center Atlanta provides an easy-to-use recipe for using beeswax and fabric to make an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap.

Small steps can lead to big change Small Things Matter - One Person's Response to Plastic Reduction

Small things matter, when each individual does it, this small thing can become so large, the scope of impact could be global.

Extending source reduction awareness through a local farmer's market Bringing Source Reduction to the Farmer's Market

Diya Heal and Richard Heal extend source reduction awareness through a local farmer's market with gratifying results.

PNW keeps finding more ways to make an impact locally and abroad Pacific Northwest Does Source Reduction in Amritapuri

The PNW keeps finding more ways to make an impact locally and abroad


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