Replace single-use plastics with materials that can be composted

At restaurants, the difference can be a tiny percentage of the total bill.

SHARE Replace single-use plastics with materials that can be composted

Discarded water bottles lie in a trash can in 2008 in Washington, D.C.


Two facts jump out at me in your recent joint report with ABC-7 about how the pandemic has drastically increased the consumption of single-use plastics:

We are using 250% to 300% more such plastics this year, according to the International Solid Waste Association. And these plastics will last a century or more before breaking down.

I am chair of the Zero Waste Warriors, a committee of the Climate Reality Project, Chicago Chapter. One of the things we are doing is going to restaurants with a sheet that shows how much it costs to use compostable materials, compared with plastics. The difference can be a tiny percentage of the total bill, and in some cases, compostables are cheaper.

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For example, a nine-inch, compostable clamshell box costs 32 cents, compared with 10 to 13 cents for Styrofoam. That’s 20 cents well spent. And one of those black plastic boxes with a clear lid costs 34 cents, but a paper box of a comparable size is 44 cents. For a $12 entrée, that’s a less than a 1% difference in cost.

It’s only too clear how much harm is caused by plastic in our waste stream. Both the state and the city of Chicago have pending legislation that would move us away from this destructive practice. We understand that restaurants are sensitive to costs right now, but their customers’ awareness is catching up. I would be much more likely to order from an eatery that uses Earth-friendly materials.

It is important that voters call their elected representatives to urge their support for banning polystyrene and requiring the use of recyclable and compostable materials for grocery stores and restaurants.

Natalie Lynn Lichtenbert,Climate Reality Project, Chicago Chapter

No surprise

What a surprise, the teachers’ union is against reopening schools. But let me guess: It’s all about the kids, right? We pulled our kids from CPS years ago because the union was a “partner” in name only.

Shawn Jenkins, Hyde Park

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