Yoga Journal Blog: Green Life

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« Loving Your Family Through The Holidays (Even If They Don't Recycle) | Blog HomePage | Find Your Way, Taking Your Own Advice In The New Year »

Take The Plastic Challenge

So it's the end of the year and you may be setting your New Year's resolutions for 2011. You may be cutting out sweets, maybe reducing your caffeine, perhaps even quitting smoking.  But one bad habit you may need to stop may be going unnoticed in your everyday life, and it may even be the most detrimental: plastic.

albatross_plastic.jpgHave you ever noticed how much plastic you consume on a daily basis? It's the lid on that coffee you are getting to-go in the morning, it's part of almost any packaged item your purchase in the grocery store, and it even is what your chewing gum is made of (I'm not even kidding). In good circumstances, some plastics will take more than 20 years to break down. In less ideal circumstances (land fills or as general refuse), plastic refuse will take more than 1,000 years to degrade. And it's important to note that when plastics break down, they don't biodegrade, they photodegrade.This means the materials break down to smaller toxic fragments which contaminate soil, waterways, and animals upon digestion.
Enter Beth Terry, founder of the blog Fake Plastic Fish, and one of my personal heroes.  Three years ago, a photo of an albatross chick changed Beth Terry's life. The bird's stomach had exploded from eating disposable plastic waste it foraged on land and sea. It was our everyday items -- toothbrushes, lighters, and bottlecaps are commonly found -- that were not only contaminating our environment, but destroying the life that depends on it. Beth decided to see if she could live a life without plastic. Her blog, Fake Plastic Fish, started as a diary of her attempts to find plastic alternatives, and has now become a resource for people trying to live a plastic-free life.

I know a lot of great environmental activists, and it is rare and special to find someone as dedicated to the cause as Beth. She goes to great lengths to educate people about the dangers of plastics, as well as where they are often hidden unbeknownst to most of us (cans of food are usually lined with plastic, as our shopping receipts). Now, she wants YOU to join her.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE! Collect your plastic waste (both recyclable and non) for one week or more. Then photograph, tally, and post it here. What can we learn about our habits and lifestyles by examining our waste? And what changes can each of us make to leave the planet a little less trashy?  Find lots of other people's successes in cutting out plastic, as well as their trials and tribulations. Perhaps it will inspire you to change some habits in the coming year.

Stephanie Bernstein is the Founder and CEO of To-Go Ware. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for 12 years and currently resides in Oakland, CA.  


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