The Green Report

One million per minute

One million per minute. That is how many plastic bags the world uses. It is estimated that worldwide use of plastic bags is between 500 billion and 1 trillion a year. Furthermore, it is estimated that Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags a year. The average American family brings home 1,500 plastic bags a year.

Not only are plastic bags a nuisance for the environment because they either sit in a landfill for hundreds of years or worse are blown around in our environment, ending up in trees and contaminating our waterways, but at least 12 million barrels of oil are used each year to manufacture those bags. Twelve million barrels of oil. A year. For something that is pretty much unnecessary.

Plastic bags were introduced to our society in 1977. Since then, these bags have become a crutch in our use-and-toss culture. We expect them everywhere we make purchases. More than 98 percent of them are thrown away and end up in a landfill after being used for 20 minutes. 

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 10:04 AM, 03.15.2016

Spring cleaning the green way

As spring approaches and the weather warms, many people decide it’s time to do a spring cleaning in their home. I have to tell you, my husband laughed when I told him I was going to write about this – he says I don’t know anything about it because I’m not very good at it! And, he’s right!

While I may not be good at getting things cleaned out during a certain season, I think I am good at slowly clearing things out of our home over the course of the year – and when we do this, I like to make sure we are disposing of everything in the most environmentally friendly way possible. I’m going to suggest ways for you to get rid of those things in your house you just don’t know what to do with!

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Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 9:35 AM, 03.01.2016

Going green in February and March

I know this column will reach you all a little late, but I’d like to throw it out there anyhow. I’m sure plenty of you have figured out what, if anything, you are giving up for Lent. Today I’d like to ask you to add one more thing, and that’s disposable cups (i.e. coffee cups, etc.) and plastic water bottles. Make a commitment to yourself and the planet to refuse these items for the rest of Lent. It is my hope that by the end, you will develop new habits (like bringing your own travel coffee mug to the coffee shop to have it filled) and using a reusable water bottle.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:54 AM, 02.16.2016

A case for using real stuff

Our society has become a disposable one. People buy coffee and toss out the cup. People spill milk and use disposable paper towels to clean it up. People buy water bottles by the hundreds and recycle or throw away the bottle. Plastic bags are given away at stores, and thrown into the trash. Fast food purchases include disposable containers, napkins and utensils. It is estimated that the amount of Keurig cups used in 2011 would circle the world more than six times. Parties are thrown using only plastic cups, plates and flatware. The list goes on and on and on.

In a quest for convenience, we are destroying our planet. As you go about your day, take notice of disposable items you are using. A disposable society is not a sustainable one.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 9:59 AM, 01.19.2016

Congress bans microbeads

[The Observer is excited to kick off the new year with a new columnist. Jennifer Hartzell is a member of the Bay Village Green Team. Her column, "The Green Report," will highlight simple ways to help readers lead a more "green" lifestyle. Jennifer has a background in grant writing for local Cleveland non-profit organizations. She grew up in Evanston, Illinois, and met her husband at Miami University. They reside in Bay Village with their three children, two cats and a dog.]

The Great Lakes, as well as all other waterways, will soon have one less pollutant! On Dec. 28, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman and co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown that will prohibit microbeads in personal care products. Microbeads are tiny plastic beads that are in hundreds of different personal products, from face scrubs and skin exfoliants to toothpaste. These beads are washed down the drain after they are used, and water treatment plants are unable to filter them out due to their tiny size. They then make it into the lake, or ocean, and fish mistake them for food. Microbeads are a huge polluter of water worldwide.

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Volume 8, Issue 1, Posted 10:11 AM, 01.05.2016