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Make a Difference this Earth Day and All Year Long

Earth Day is April 22, and this year’s focus is on reducing plastic waste. Plastic is everywhere and wreaks havoc on our oceans and the animals that live there. Currently, half of global plastic production is for single-use and only 9% of plastic is recycled, according to current statistics published by the World Economic Forum.

Alameda Post - a person holds a globe wrapped in plastic

The good news, according to the latest research, is that reusing just 10% of plastic products would reduce the amount of plastic waste reaching the ocean by 50%.

Ways to reduce plastic waste

As a quick and easy start, instead of disposable coffee/tea cups with plastic lids, you can bring your reusable cup or take advantage of the Okapi reusable mug program, which lends you a reusable cup right at the coffee shop to take out and return later.  Instead of plastic resealable baggies, you can purchase reusable sealable bags. Use reusable bags for groceries and produce.



Alameda Post - reusable metal cups with silicone lids
The OKAPI Reusables program has partnered with Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden, Coffee Cultures, The Local Alameda, Wescafe, Café Julie/Café Jolie Petit, Donut Petit, Mosley’s, and Island Savoy Market. Photos OKAPI Reusables.

Save money and help the environment by skipping bottled water and using a reusable water bottle instead. Instead of buying a plastic jug of laundry detergent, use laundry sheets. Store food in reusable containers with lids instead of using plastic wrap.

Skip the plastic straw and use a glass or metal straw. The State of California’s Straws Upon Request law, which took effect in 2019, actually prohibits full-service restaurants from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless requested.

When getting takeout food, decline the plastic utensils. That shouldn’t be difficult in Alameda, where the Disposable Food Service Ware law has prohibited restaurants, vendors, and City facilities from using polystyrene containers or single-use plastic straws since 2017.

Switch from bottled soap to bar soap.

And for plastic film you have trouble avoiding—newspaper bags, frozen vegetable bags, shipping bags, etc.—you might have to consider a commercial service to recycle that film.

Alameda Post - Alameda Spring Shindig poster and Alameda Backyard Growers Spring Plant Sale poster

Spring Shindig

The City of Alameda celebrates Spring and Earth Day on Saturday, April 20, from noon to 3 p.m. at its Spring Shindig. The event will be held at Alameda Point Gym and Field, 1101 West Redline Avenue. The Rotary Club of Alameda will be there, distributing free tree saplings to participants. Many other climate-related organizations will participate as well, including Citizens Climate Lobby and 100K Trees 4 Humanity. Be sure to check out this free event.

Climate protection checklist

Another action you can take for Earth Day is to print out and post the Community Action for Sustainable Alameda (CASA) climate protection checklist and resource list. This document lists 70 things you can do to protect the climate and provides a helpful resource list to assist you in completing those actions. Post it on your refrigerator and check things off as you change habits and complete projects.

One item on the checklist is contacting your elected officials to encourage them to act to protect the climate. Download the Climate Action Now (CAN) app to get scripted letters to your state and federal representatives based on your zip code, as well as letters to corporations. It’s easy and fast to use. In just five minutes each morning you can send 10 emails.

Let’s all make a difference this Earth Day!

Joyce Mercado is a member of Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA). She can be reached at [email protected].

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