Missouri River Relief has spent over twenty years pulling trash from the banks of the Big Muddy. During this time, our volunteers have discovered that most of the trash collected at cleanups originates from our homes.
Clean Rivers Start at Home was designed with the idea that we could take the next step beyond cleanups and slow the flow of plastic from our homes.
Through this program, we want to encourage people to reduce their personal consumption of single-use plastics.
Single-use plastic items like food wrappers, plastic bottles, and shopping bags make up a large percentage of the plastic waste we produce from our homes.
We often only use these items for convenience, but our growing reliance on plastic is not without cost.
Plastic materials are made to last. With this in mind, they can no longer be used to make products intended to be thrown away - there is no "away".
Most plastics end up as waste. In 2021, the US alone disposed of 51 million tons of plastic, and only 6% was recycled according to Greenpeace USA.
The rest was either incinerated, buried in landfills, or has been unleashed into our environment.
Streams in populated areas pick up plastic that was either littered intentionally or escaped due to gaps in local waste management. These streams connect to the Missouri River, ensuring that there is always a constant flow of trash going to the river and eventually the ocean.
Addressing the disposal of plastic products is just one part of managing the plastic pollution crisis. Each stage in the life cycle of plastic has consequences. From the extraction of fossil fuels like petroleum and natural gasses to the creation of plastic, environmental pollution is made.
Furthermore, plastic can have negative consequences not only for the environment, but for the health of people. This is especially true for marginalized communities located near plastic production facilities.
The plastic pollution crisis can fell overwhelming, but here are some reasons to motivate yourself to act.
I enjoy time outside and don't want to see unsightly plastic trash everywhere.
I care about wildlife because they are adorable and tug on my heartstrings.
I'm concerned about how plastic contributes to climate change.
I'm concerned about the health risk to people, especially for those living near where plastic tends to be manufactured, buried, or incinerated.
Missouri River Relief has worked tirelessly to reduce the amount of plastic trash in the Missouri River. We have seen the plastic pollution crisis up close and personally.
Together we can act to prevent plastic waste from entering our shared waterways by looking closely at how we use plastic in our daily lives.
Reflect on your plastic usage. Inventory the single-use plastics that you rely on the most in your home. Are there plastics items you use that are unnecessary or could be replaced by reusable items?
When we are away from home, we tend to rely heavily on the convenience of plastic packaging. What are your habits when drinking or eating on-the-go?
Invite others to join you, whether in your family, at work or at school and engage your community in combating plastic waste. Share with others the ways that you are reducing your single-use plastics.