How to cut out plastic waste that comes with your food-earth-day

Picture this scenario: You head to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner – let’s say you’re going to make tacos.

You head to produce first to pick up cilantro that’s in a plastic clamshell container. Next, you grab grape tomatoes that are in a plastic container with a plastic film window on top. Since you love raw onions on your tacos, you grab an onion and place it in a plastic bag that you pull from one of those giant rolls in the produce department.

From there, you pick up ground beef that’s placed on a plastic-foam tray before being covered in plastic wrap. Then you grab flour tortilla shells that are in a plastic bag and sour cream that’s in a plastic container. You might pick up salsa in a glass jar or treat yourself to fresh pico de gallo from the deli that’s also in a plastic container.

Before you leave, you grab dish soap in a plastic jug because this dinner is going to create its share of dirty dishes.

Finally, it’s checkout time. “Paper or plastic,” they ask.

The takeaway from this? We are drowning in plastic.

RELATED:Get free beer for volunteering at river cleanup, plus more Earth Day events in the Milwaukee area

Jenna Meier holds a 25-pound bag of popcorn on April 6 at the Glass Pantry in Milwaukee.  The popcorn will be poured into a container behind her, and then customers can buy it by the pound.

The plastic problem

About 22 million pounds of plastic pollution enter the Great Lakes each year, according to New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology. And beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes also contains 4.05 man-made particles per liter (99% of which are plastic fibers), according to National Public Radio.

“Plastic pollution is such a big problem. It’s one of the drivers for climate change, “said Leah Holloway, a program manager at the Milwaukee Riverkeeper environmental group. Holloway is one of the lead organizers for Plastic-Free MKE, a movement of 40-plus organizations, businesses and nonprofits working since 2018 to eliminate single-use plastics in our city.


“We build a shared understanding and awareness of individual changes we can all make,” Holloway said. “Recycling is part of the answer, but it’s not the whole answer.”

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