JULY 7, 2019 BY 

For Steamboat Pilot & Today | July 7, 2019
Plastics aren’t just clogging our oceans; it’s raining plastic in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park — a sobering thought with all the June precipitation we had.

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that 90% of rainwater samples collected from eight sites in Colorado contained plastics, mostly fibers.

In the 1970s and ’80s, you may remember the impact acid rain had on our environment. Microplastics are the 21st century threat to our water, air, soil and human health, and people around the globe are taking action on plastic pollution with campaigns like Plastic Free July.

Breaking up with plastic isn’t easy, but a little awareness and planning can help you drastically cut your plastic use: remember your reusable bags when you shop; bring your water bottle and coffee mug everywhere; request no straw in beverages; and invest in reusable alternatives, such as titanium sporks, stainless straws and glass storage containers.

I’ve been trying for more than a year (without much success) to avoid Ziploc bags, but I just found a great plastic alternative — silicone zip closure bags that are reusable and dishwasher safe.

Individual and corporate action are a critical piece of reducing plastic pollution, but many communities are going a step further to ban single-use plastics, like bags and straws.

On May 21, Steamboat Springs City Council passed an ordinance banning plastic carryout bags at large markets and imposing a 20-cent fee for paper bags. As of October 1, City Market, Safeway, Walmart and Walgreens will no longer provide plastic shopping bags. Natural Grocers already offers cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags. Stores will still provide plastic bags for produce and meat/seafood.

Although the bag ban and fee don’t go into effect until fall, you can get into the habit of bringing your reusable bags to stores today. Keep your quiver of bags in the car. After you unpack your groceries at home, hang your reusable bags by the door, so you don’t forget them.

If you’re at Art in the Park this weekend, visit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s booth to learn more about the bag ban and make your own reusable bag from a recycled T-shirt. We’ll also be making free reusable bags at the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on Aug. 24 and Sept. 14.

Now that our community is committed to ditching plastic bags, challenge yourself to swear off more plastics by taking YVSC‘s online pledge at yvsc.org/plasticfree.

Anne Mudgett is the communications and development director Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.