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From the Olentangy to the Gulf of Mexico: a plastic bag’s journey

Preservation Park of Delaware County can help on your journey to use less plastic.
Shale Hallow Park (Photo courtesy: Preservation Park of Delaware County)

Sponsored | Story By: Preservation Park of Delaware County

You know that plastic grocery bag? The one you brought fish home in? We know you tried to bring it back to the grocery store to recycle, but you dropped it in the parking lot and the wind carried it away. Across the roadway it blew, into a small stream, starting its journey in the watershed. From the small stream it floated down to the Olentangy River, then into the Scioto, then into the Ohio, then into the Mississippi until, finally, it was discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. Mistaking it for food, eventually a hapless fish ate the plastic bag. This was not a good thing for the fish, which will not survive long enough to make it to anyone’s dinner table.

Plastic, plastic, plastic! We love its ability to keep food fresh, its lightweight portability, and all the products that can be made from it. And used well, it’s a great material. But there is too much of it, and too much – 5.25 trillion pieces by a recent estimate – is floating around in the oceans, arriving there through cargo ship mishaps, dumping and other means.

What’s a solution? Recycling helps. But reducing the use of plastic is the ultimate way to solve this problem. Here are a few EASY ways to do that. And they truly are easy.

Take REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS to the store. Reusable bags are strong, hold a lot, and won’t blow away with a gust of wind. Keep them handy in the car; after a while, you’ll use them out of habit.

(Photo courtesy: Preservation Park of Delaware County)

Place PRODUCE DIRECTLY IN THE CART. Does every little lemon and bunch of carrots really need their own bags? To keep everything fresh at home, you can store your fruits and veggies in bins made just for produce. (As an alternative, you can go online to purchase reusable produce bags to bring to the store.)

Buy BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSHES. Bamboo grows ultra-fast, is sustainable and biodegrades. So far, they are easier to find online than in the stores, but as more people reduce their use of plastic, that will likely change.

SKIP THE STRAW! Their small size means they often slip right through the recycling equipment and end up in landfills or in the ocean, along with the rest of the 91 percent of plastics that don’t get recycled.

Finally, (this one’s a little long-winded) try REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES. We know that buying cases of water at the store is easy and the water is clean and tasty, right? In fact, according to Scientific American, half of all bottled water comes from municipal water sources, AKA tap water. AND the bottled water is not regulated as well as the water that comes right from your tap. Hmmm. Plus, the cost to fill your bottle from the tap is almost nothing whereas one estimate says bottled water costs 2,000 times the cost of tap.

(Photo courtesy: Preservation Park of Delaware County)

We do like our water refrigerator-cold however. Our solution? Buy a filter for your home tap, fill a couple of half-gallon pitchers with tight lids and keep them in the fridge, and fill your reusable water bottle from there.

Preservation Park of Delaware County can help on your journey to use less plastic. The World of Water exhibits that are kicking off Memorial Day weekend will include more ways to protect our interconnected waterways. And we’ll even have some sustainable items to give away (like that bamboo toothbrush …).