The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province has responded to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform by creating the Dorothy Stang Initiative for Laudato Si’ Action. While in the process of gathering data from sisters, associates, staff, donors and others in our circle, we were reminded that all steps we take are important - both big and small. We therefore introduce Your Little Bit of Good, a short weekly one-pager that focuses on some aspect of the environment. It is an attempt to bring forward small things we can do.
Director of Justice, Peace and Care for Creation
We Thank You, Creator God,
for the goodly heritage you offer us,
from green downland to the deep salt seas,
and for the abundant world we share with your creation.
Keep us so mindful of its needs and those of all with whom we share,
that open to your Spirit we may discern and practice all that makes for its wellbeing,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Rev. Peter Lippiett
A few weeks ago, I asked you for suggested topics for YLBG. One suggestion was to do a series to explain the differences in plastics and what is and is not recycled. Let’s look at #1 plastics this week. This is Polyethylene Terephthalate, or, PET plastics. This type of plastic is used for most bottled beverages, mouthwash type products and food items like salad dressing, peanut butter, honey, etc. These plastics should never be heated as they can leach a toxic chemical called antimony into the food or beverage contained inside. These items are easily recycled into another bottle, or, they are shredded into polyester fiber for clothing, bedding, and carpets. This last fact becomes a problem when these items are washed as they shed small bits of plastic into our water supply each time. These microplastics cannot easily filtered out. Research from Medical University of Vienna shows that we ingest 5 grams of small plastic particles every week. That is the weight of your credit card!
I can hear the next question you might be thinking… what about #1 ‘clamshell’ containers, like the ones berries come in? Clamshell containers such as those used for take out, salad bars and berries are PET plastic, but are not the same as PET bottles. They are technically recyclable. However, they are not, in practice, recycled. There are no good markets that want it. This is why recyclers don’t go by plastic numbers. A #1 clamshell container is NOT the same as a #1 bottle and they cannot be recycled the same way. Clamshells cause contamination problems because they must be heated at a different temperature so need to be recycled separately. They cause an ash when melted and can ruin an entire batch of recycled plastic if they get mixed in. As of now, those types of plastics are better avoided if possible.
The best way to deal with plastic is to reduce or eliminate your use of it whenever possible. Carry your own reusable water bottle and buy products in cans or glass jars when available.
What about your fruit? Most berries and often grapes are sold in plastic clamshell containers. This is where advocacy comes in. Contact the corporate office of your favorite grocery store and tell them you want an option to by items without plastic packaging.
I heard a commentator say this week, “we will have the future that consumers demand.” We will only have change if we show companies that we want it!