Event will collect plastic as evidence of waste

·2 min read

Sep. 22—MANKATO — An organizer of a Saturday event in Mankato envisions piling up collected plastic utensils, straws, bags and more as a demonstration of how much ends up polluting the environment.

Jane Dow of the Beyond Plastic coalition in Mankato hopes the "say no to plastic event" at Mom and Pop's Ice Cream leads individuals and businesses to reduce wasteful usage of the material.

Participants are encouraged to bring plastic items or just show up to learn more about plastic waste. There will be petitions calling for cities to reduce plastic waste.

Only a small fraction of throwaway plastics ends up being recycled, she said, and what ends up in the environment has negative environmental and health consequences.

Of the plastic tonnage generated in the U.S. in 2018, only about 8.7% was recycled. The vast majority of it, 75.6%, piled up in landfills.

It's past time to change the ugly trend, Dow said, adding that local sustainability groups are pushing to do just that.

"I think we're ahead of the curve because we already have an organics recycling program, and we have a couple of groups working on sustainability," she said.

Despite the groundwork in place, she added, much work remains.

Saturday's 1-3 p.m. event, organized by Beyond Plastic, Mankato Zero Waste and the Mankato Clinic Foundation, is one of two focused on plastic usage this week. An event Wednesday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota encouraged environmentally friendly practices.

Dow's recommended practices include buying products in bulk to reduce the use of plastic packaging, adopt more compostable items like real silverware rather than plastic versions, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, and more.

Mom and Pop's, she said, is a good example of a local business implementing many environmentally friendly practices.

To keep the momentum going, Mankato Zero Waste is also collecting signatures to call on the Mankato City Council to place a fee on plastic bag usage in retail establishments.

The resolution drafted by the grassroots organization notes plastic "never completely breaks down but breaks into smaller microplastic and nanoplastic particles that will remain in our environment indefinitely."

For more information on the local organizations' efforts, go to www.mankatozerowaste.com.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola