Ditching single-use plastic

Opinion: Editorials

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Seat belts. Bike helmets. Recycling. Reusable grocery bags.  

All things we rolled our eyes at when our lowered consciousnesses first heard them proposed. But now, along with kid car seats, backyard composting, free trade coffee, they all seem like the norm.

Can Oak Parkers now get their minds around paper straws? Can we recognize the environmental damage of the plastic bins our leftovers from the restaurants create as we immediately toss them into recycling? How about the 3 for $12 fresh fruit bins at the Jewel that are mighty convenient but very soon become pure plastic waste?

Oak Park is looking to change your outlook on how much single-use plastic we consume and this time the raised awareness isn't in the form of a dime-a-bag charge for plastic grocery bags.

Plastic Free July is part of a world-wide movement to reduce single-use plastic. In Oak Park it is a shared effort by the village government's Environmental and Energy Commission, the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest and the Interfaith Green Network.

The immediate focus is on restaurants where — it takes just a moment — plastic straws and plastic take-out bins with accompanying plastic forks and knives are doled out perpetually. Plastic Free July advocates have been visiting and cajoling local eateries to find out who is taking the lead and who needs more encouragement.

The League has a list of early adapters on plastic and it includes Buzz Café, Citrine, Happy Apple Pie Shop, The Heritage, Poke Burrito, Poor Phil's and Wild Onion Tide House. All are Oak Park-based except for The Heritage which is on Madison Street in Forest Park.

Of course, the best needlers and cajolers are actual restaurant customers. So during July especially don't be shy, or rude, in urging your favorite diner to move to plastic free.

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