By Elizabeth Banks, SELF magazine
"SELF recently reported on my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands. The focus of that visit with National Geographic oceanographer and TED prize winner Sylvia Earle (author of The World Is Blue) was ocean conservation.
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Among the slew of overwhelming problems with the ocean is that of human waste. Just how much garbage is in the ocean? Two million plastic beverage containers are thrown out every five minutes and Greenpeace estimates that 10% of them end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone. This Patch is TWICE the size of Texas and growing!
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So in honor of my new film, The Next Three Days, I am spending the next three days toting around my garbage. I want to know just how much one regular American person generates and hopefully become more aware of ways to reduce my own waste.
I make three rules:
1. Paper and glass are better alternatives to anything plastic since the ocean can at least break those down.
2. Compostable food is fine too.
3. Recycle and compost as much as possible.
DAY ONE - Smelly Chicken
This day started out great because I drink filtered water in a reusable BPA-free canister. I prefer the ones I got on the set of 30 Rock.
It went downhill from there.
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I went to Jamba Juice with a reusable bottle but the hole in the top was too small to pour my protein shake into. So now I'm toting around the cup, plastic lid, plastic straw and straw paper from my breakfast. This is the main issue with food - packaging. It's one more reason to grow a garden.
At lunch, I order light because I don't want any leftovers for my garbage bag. This is a good way of thinking, I believe because I'm usually an over-eater. I was totally full after cleaning my plate of half-salad. I also refused a straw. So the only thing I left was a washable, reusable plate and glass. A win!
Dinner was less of a success, however. I had to make a lot of new choices at the grocery store (a haven of plastic) to avoid garbage. I did remember to bring in my reusable grocery bags (mine fold up nicely into my purse). However, that cheese wrapped in plastic? I went to the deli and got them to wrap slices in paper instead. The granola in plastic? Nope. I went with the boxed kind but then remembered the plastic liner inside. Then I thought about the granola bar - just put it in a plastic bag? Eh. With no garbage-free solution, I bought granola I actually like. Despite the plastic. Bummer.
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The vegetable aisle was better although I had to avoid those plastic baggies. So my lemons went straight into the cart as did my scallions and lettuce (perched precariously on top of the plastic granola bag). I figure you wash these things no matter what so why waste the plastic bag? Although the lettuce comes with a wire holding it together and the scallions come with not one but TWO little rubber bands and a tag stating: this is green onion otherwise known as scallion. Apparently the sign under which it sits stating clearly that this is the scallion section isn't clear enough.
The big killer is the rotisserie chicken (on a plastic pan, wrapped in paper with a plastic window so you can see it).
So unfortunately, added to my garbage bag that night was a chicken carcass (non-compostable BUT not the worst thing for the ocean), and all kinds of food packaging."
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Photo Credit: WWD