Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has been drilled into my brain from my first days of Kindergarten to my senior year of high school. Yes, recycling is important, but it is not the best and only option.
Recycling plastic in New Jersey is a difficult task. Most people opt to throwing away plastic products just because it’s too hard to remember if “I can recycle 1 or 2 plastic,” and “didn’t we just add 5 to the list.” Less than 1/5 of plastic gets recycled globally and in the U.S. it’s less than 10 percent.
We can buy as much plastic as we want as long as we are recycling right? As United States citizens and as global citizens we must reduce our waste.
Since coming to Bennington College in Vermont this fall I have had the privilege to learn about the issues of plastic pollution and climate change.
Not everyone has this opportunity or the financial means to reduce their own plastic consumption, people are just trying to survive. It’s easy to lose hope when reading the United Nations climate report or knowing that the last four years have been the hottest on record.
So what can we do to feel a little more in control? Public education, keep talking about these issues in schools and around your local community. Reduce your waste. Community organize. Educate your local and state elected officials. And finally, seek out other alternatives. We must ask ourselves, do we care more about the planet or plastic?
Buy less plastic this holiday season
The holiday season is approaching and with it comes an abundance of plastic pollution. Plastic toys packaged in plastic boxes, carried out in plastic bags, only to be torn open and thrown away.
This December we can all make the choice to become a little more environmentally conscious by reducing the amount of plastic we buy and use.
Over 250,000 tons of plastic float along the ocean surface resulting in the death of over 100,000 marine animals every year, we are quickly and surely turning our oceans into landfills.
There are easy steps we can take to prevent sending more plastic into the ocean, reusable bags, water bottles, containers, and utensils all make great gifts, and allow you to pass along the pleasure of helping the environment to friends and family.
When buying presents it’s better to go out and shop, online shopping results in a massive waste of plastic on shipping and packaging. While in stores be conscious of toys and gifts made of or wrapped in plastic, and try to buy those not drenched in plastic.
These may seem like small, ineffective choices, but the most important notion when it comes to plastic pollution is to reduce above all else. The holidays celebrate sharing, and there’s nothing greater to share than a collective feeling of doing your part.
Opportunity to act on climate change
President Donald Trump‘s own administration released a report warning the world of the climate catastrophe, and many Montclair residents are concerned and frustrated. There is now an opportunity to take action.
In November, five members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a transformative piece of climate change legislation. The bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act proposes a market-based approach that will drive down carbon pollution by placing a nationwide price on carbon emissions, and will return the revenue back to the American people.
This bill will result in lower carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent in the first 12 years. This bipartisan approach has the support of economists and climate scientists, republicans and democrats, and is supported by the Citizens Climate Lobby, which has an active local chapter here in Montclair.
In addition to encouraging action from Montclair residents, I would also like to ask my newly elected congresswoman, Mikie Sherrill of NJ 11th, to support this bill.
It is time for us to set aside our political differences when it comes to climate change. We must enact the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in the next Congress.
Opportunity to act on climate change
We all know the bad news about climate change. Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment seem dire indeed. The President’s reluctance to acknowledge the scientific consensus adds to our concerns as we feel the negative effects of a changing climate firsthand.
But there’s good news, and it comes from Congress, where a bipartisan group has put aside partisan differences for the good of our country and the world. They’ve written a powerful bill to directly impact the problem.
Republicans and democrats have joined to introduce the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, legislation that will reduce U.S. carbon emissions to help control climate change. It’s effective. It’s good for people and the economy.
Placing a steadily rising fee on carbon pollution and returning all revenue to households equally, this is a revenue-neutral, market-based solution with bipartisan support. It will benefit people and businesses, create jobs, improve health, protect family incomes, and promote energy innovation, while helping to sustain a livable world for ourselves and future generations.
Bravo to Congressmen Deutch, Rooney, Fitzpatrick, Crist, and Delaney. Together they’ve stepped up and taken the lead to address the problem. Let’s support them by enacting this important legislation in the next Congress.
The writer is a volunteer for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.