Ocean Plastic: Showing Us That Recycling Isn’t Enough

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

WASTED WATER: Plastic bottles washing up on the shores of Cozumel are a grim reminder that the best way to keep the human footprint out of nature is to reduce our waste. Feel free to join me in choosing items you can, “Refuse in 2016,” such as water bottles, plastic cutlery and to-go bags.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

The holidays brought a mixed bag of gifts this year, and combined together, taught me an eco lesson I now bring to you.

But before I do, I must mention some sad news.

Tulsa recently lost a great hero in the world of service to others and working towards a greener city. Shelley Umezawa passed away Jan. 1. As The M.E.T.’s outreach and volunteer coordinator, Umezawa taught many graduates of Tulsa Master Recyclers Association, including me. She worked selflessly, always with a smile as she demanded the best from our efforts.

Her efforts included organizing volunteers for The Tulsa Household Pollutant Event. With her dedication behind it and its recurring success, it has become a year-round collection event.

The collection facility at 4502 S. Galveston Ave. opens free of charge for Tulsa residents every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
A recent trip to Mexico brought the need for the 3 R’s of reducing, reusing and recycling into sharp focus.

The beautiful coastline was littered with thousands of plastic pieces embedded in its sands and trash tangled in its weeds.

It’s only fitting that Trash Talk’s eco-focus of 2016 grow from its recycling roots towards talk of reducing our overall trash consumption.

Piles of trash along that gorgeous shoreline that matched those along our roadsides and in our city drains stood stark against paradise.

As a fellow recycler, you probably have your own waste product you’d love to stop collecting. For example, seeing a year’s supply of batteries encouraged me that I’d save money with rechargeables and eliminate a pile waste.

So here are my five “gimmies,” or plastics I’ll refuse in 2016:

1. To-Go Bags: Sounds easy but after the holidays I still wound up with a bag full of bags. : In some cities, instead of getting a dime for remembering your bag, you’re charged for one.

2. Straws: If you don’t use one, it can’t wind up in a turtle’s nose. (I saw it on YouTube; just awful).

3. Packaged laundry detergent: By shaving a bar of Ivory soap and adding a cup each of baking soda and Borax, you can make your own detergent – no plastic container needed.

4. One-use food products: Too many plastic forks, cups and bottles end up entwined in seaweed and scattered along beaches. Look for reusable options. There are many out there, you will not be disappointed!

What do you think can be added to the list? Send in your thoughts, suggestions and advice for what or how to refuse in 2016. Email bethturner@me.com or tweet @TrashTalkTulsa. I look forward to your insights.

Updated 02-24-2016

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