A Note From Our Chapter Chair
"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy." — William Blake
Welcome to winter!
What a busy and productive year this has been! I personally want to thank all of our members, staff, and volunteer leaders for all their dedication this year. Our State Director, Sam Dynowski, has quantified our activities for the year – take a look – and you’ll be impressed too!
The Quinnehtukqut will be taking a break in January. Look for the next edition on February 3, 2024.
In the meantime, SAVE THE DATE for our March to Keep Connecticut’s Climate Promise on February 2 at noon.
Sierra Club Connecticut is a member of the CT Zero Waste Coalition (ZWC) and we have been working together with our allies to promote Zero Waste policies that will reduce our waste stream by significant amounts. The three R’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle, are key to achieving these goals.
With the holidays coming up, we can have an impact on our own waste and on the market by thinking ahead and prioritizing purchases that have little or no plastic packaging, only essential packaging and materials that can be recycled or reused. Ditto for gift wrapping products. Consider giving gifts that are made of natural materials such as clothing made of wool, silk, or cotton, and toys made of wood or fabrics. Homemade treats and crafts – priceless! More tips here.
Experiences can be waste free gifts. How about tickets to a play or concert, or a promise of a soup a month in 2024? Or host a night of dark skies and star gazing with hot cocoa and friends. (A possible time for this – Geminid meteor shower, Dec. 13-14. Visible all night, 75 meteors/hour. Just a day or two away from the new moon, so viewing should be good unless it's cloudy.)
Another consideration is how long the gift is likely to be used or if it can be reused. A nice wool sweater may cost more but save purchases of cheap, disposable fashion that is quickly discarded. Personally, I have no problem with regifting either! Sharing a favorite book, a family treasure, or a length of ethnic fabric brought home from previous adventures would delight many of us!
It is especially important to avoid plastics in children’s toys, for young children are even more vulnerable to toxic exposures than adults are. Plastics are made of chemicals and fossil fuels, primarily. Some of these chemicals, like bisphenols, brominated dioxins, PVC (vinyl), and phthalates, are known to be hazardous to human health, while thousands of others are untested. Paints may contain lead, cadmium, or other heavy metals. Many plastic toys are made of recycled plastics from e-waste and have been found to contain high levels of toxic chemicals.
Handling these toys may expose children to toxic chemicals during the life of the item, and then what are you supposed to do with them? Less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled in the US today. And when it is, the toxic chemicals contaminate the recycling and may end up in new products. Fourteen million tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans annually, breaking down into micro- or nanoplastics, harming sea life, and finding the way up the food chain to us.
I believe that people want to do the right thing. There are so many sincere questions about how to recycle x, y, or z. But the fact is, if it's plastic, chances are it will never be recycled into a new plastic product. It is more likely to be burned or sent to a landfill in another state. Or dumped.
The good news is that leaders from over 160 countries are working together to forge a strong Plastics Treaty, with goals to reduce plastic production and find ways to make plastic safer for our use. There are strong opponents, but I am hopeful that we will see major progress in 2024. Stand by for more news as it happens!
Wishing you a joyous holiday season and much love and laughter in the coming year!
Susan Eastwood is Chapter Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.