During this week of Oil and Our Lifestyles: A Month of Action, we turn our focus to plastics.

Take a look around — many of the items that we eat, drink, or use in any way come packaged in petroleum plastic. This plastic material is often designed to last forever, yet is commonly used for products that we use just once and then throw away. The effects of this throwaway mentality can be readily witnessed in our landfills and at our beaches that are being overrun with plastic packaging.

As the organization 5 Gyres points out:

“The short-term convenience of using and throwing away plastic products carries a very inconvenient long-term truth. These plastic water bottles, cups, utensils, electronics, toys, and gadgets we dispose of daily are rarely recycled in a closed loop. We currently recover only 5% of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest of it? Roughly 50% is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains “unaccounted for”, lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.”

Here at NWEI, we focus on individual behavior change and small group learning through our discussion courses and in our EcoChallenge. So we’re challenging each of you to decrease the amount of plastic you use on a regular basis.

Today’s proposed action is: Reduce one piece of plastic that you use in your daily lives.

If you’re still using disposable water bottles, go get yourself a stainless steel water bottle. If you’ve got friends or family that are using water bottles once and then throwing them away, take this opportunity to talk to them about the long-term impacts of plastics.

Consider contacting your local elected officials and urge them to enact legislation that will decrease the amount of bottled water waste your community creates. This issue in particular is one in which individual communities can make a big difference, so contact your city council and county officials.