Back in February, I posted an op-ed supporting a citywide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags. I believe the best way to reduce plastic waste is to limit the consumer’s consumption of single-use plastics. As I said in my article, only 8% of plastic waste was recycled in 2010 while the rest was burned, dumped in someone else’s backyard, or ended up in our streets, waterways, and oceans. The reality is that plastic cannot biodegrade; it takes more than 500 years to photodegrade (degrade from sunlight exposure).
Unfortunately, plastic recycling isn’t as effective as many would like to believe it is; however, that does not mean recycling shouldn’t be part of the solution. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, of which I am a proud member, the best way to reduce plastic pollution is to refuse, reduce, reuse and then recycle. Minneapolis needs to be a leader in recycling. Part of that goal can be achieved by the municipal government, but most of it must come from consumer demand. We can’t expect our government to solve all of the world’s problems because, frankly, it can’t.
In order to address the issue locally, I started a petition asking Caribou Coffee to provide recycling and compost bins at all of its locations. Caribou Coffee has an environmentally progressive record, and I believe its customers will appreciate it if Caribou Coffee goes the extra mile to adopt a more progressive waste management system. My goal is to collect 5000 signatures for my petition within a couple of months, so I would appreciate it if you, the reader, would sign and share my petition.
All it takes for positive change is for many people to stand up for what’s right. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”