What are “single-use” products? Why are they considered bad for the environment? ~Questioning

Dear Questioning,

Single-use products are those products that are used one time, usually for only minutes. Yet, their impact on the environment can last thousands of years. Plastic bags, bottles for water, plastic straws, paper towels and napkins, and Styrofoam coffee cups are some of the worst of these items. Awareness of the potential harm these single-use products are to our environment has led businesses like Hyatt Hotels, McDonalds in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as Starbucks to go plastic-straw-free by 2020. These actions alone will keep one billion plastic straws per year out of the environment. We can all take a few simple steps to decrease the use of single-use products by carrying reusable water bottles, coffee cups and straws.

I received an email from Environmental America stating that “in just 30 short years, the plastics industry will generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as 615 coal-fired power plants. Nearly all plastic is made from fossil fuel sources. Not only do plastics pollute our land and water and kill wildlife, but even their production releases some of the worst greenhouse gases. It’s like pouring gas on the fire of our climate crisis.” ~Environmentalist

Dear Environmentalist,

Thanks for the timely information.  As individuals and as a community, we all need to do more to reduce our plastic footprint.  One of the best, and simplest, ways to do this is to avoid the use of single-use plastics, such plastic bags, straws and stirrers, disposable containers, disposable cups, plates and cutlery, whenever possible.