Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TAP -Travelers Against Plastics

Recently I have been becoming more and more aware of my family's plastic consumption and what we can do to change our dependability to create a more sustainable lifestyle.  
Plastics pollution is the number one detriment to Earth and yet consumers continue to buy and support plastic manufactured items even though it has health effects on us too.

Why do we turn a blind eye for simple convenience? 

"Disposable plastics are the greatest source of plastic pollution.  Plastic bags, straws, bottles, utensils, lids, cups and so many others offer a small convenience but remain forever.  REFUSE disposable plastics! Follow the "4 Rs" of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

Because reducing our dependability on plastics is extremely hard and takes effort.  The general population would also be healthy if it was as easy as eating Big Macs all day.

Please forgive me if this offends you (it is my view only not United Military Travel) but the general population is lazy.  A bunch of lazy, mass buying consumers who do not care about what they do to their bodies and much less their carbon footprint.  The general population doesn't give a rat's a** about the soil they walk on, where their money goes, or their legacy. 
The general population only cares about convenience and shopping at the largest brand stores like Wal-Mart and McDonalds who continually lack any sort of effort to become environmental sustainability.  
If you buy from these places and others like it you are enabler. 

I apologize for my was rude. 

Back to the purpose of this post.
TAP - Travelers Against Plastics

Being a traveler you automatically belong to this group of like minded people and no matter what you will always belong. 
 This group of people is HUGE! 
Huge enough that if we all come together as one unit, like TAP, we could educate others by our own examples on why we should all REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE plastics!

Bottled water is just glorified tap water so really what is the point of buying water that is free to you.  When you travel carry along a reusable ALUMINUM bottle and treat your own water.

Many countries that we visit do not have a recycling program that comes and picks up their trash and whisks it away to be disposed of.  What they do have are companies that continually bring in plastic goods knowing that there is no way to recycle it.

For example: La Chureca, Nicaragua
Photo Credit: Expert Vagabond

La Chureca is a spanish slang word meaning city dump and it is the largest garbage dump in all of Central America and located just outside the capital city of Managua.  It covers a whopping 4 square miles and has earned the nickname the "City of Trash" because people actually live in the dump.
The locals are called Churequeros because their homes are made of trash, they rummage through trash for food (everyday), they sell trash, they inhale fumes from trash and make a living off the trash. 

You may be asking yourself what is done with the trash once it reaches La Chureca, well it is burned.
Burned trash emits toxic fumes and gases hence the reason America enforces burning laws.
No such things exist in Nicaragua.

Here is where it gets even more sad.  There is elementary school located inside the dump so all day these kids inhale the toxic fumes, eat the garbage to sustain themselves and after going to school day after day after day they graduate only to begin working at the dump.

Now it is not hard to distinguish the plastic from the rest.  

And here are my photos from Nicaragua in a location along the coast....

Need I say more????
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I feel I must include a plastic bag rant so here I go...

Do you know why plastic bags are so bad in comparison to other plastics you put into your recycling bin?
No worries, I will tell you!

[• Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. Consider China, a country of 1.3 billion, which consumes 3 billion plastic bags daily, according to China Trade News.
• About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute.
• A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
• More than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps were discarded in 2008.
• Only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled (BBC).
• The U.S. goes through 100 billion single-use plastic bags. This costs retailers about $4 billion a year.
• Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse, after cigarette butts (2008)
• Plastic bags remain toxic even after they break down.
• Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.]
Credit: Reuseit

After contacting my local recycling company I learned that they will not recycle plastic bags that I put in the bin.  Why?  Because their sorting machines are built to sort through hard objects like glass and plastic and the bags jam their machines.  I imagine that all the bags they get each week just end up in the land fill and going into our oceans which ultimately turn up in our food.

So what to do with them?
Two solutions:
1. Return them back to the store where they recycle them.
2. Quit using them and purchase a few reusable bags.
(this only works if you are proactive and not lazy about it)

And even better - when you travel carry the reusable bags with you and use at the local markets etc.  They can serve as luggage options and help the local environment!

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Basically I would love, love, love it if all travelers could make an effort to reduce their footprint when traveling.  
That doesn't necessarily mean staying in the expensive green lodges but just simply refusing to buy bottled water, use your own bag and utensils.  
Follow the same beliefs abroad that you hold close to you at home.

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Thank you so very much for taking the time to visit my blog! Traveling is very dear to me and sharing my travels and desires with you makes my heart smile. I want to hear all about your adventures because sharing travel stories is the root to all inspiration. Also, any suggestions you may have on how I can improve this blog - I am all ears!!
Allie xoxo