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It Isn't Easy Being Plastic Free

The U.S. makes up 4% of world’s population but produces 12% of the world’s waste.";s:

The average American consumer is responsible for 234 pounds of plastic waste each year, and of the 30 million tons of plastic produced each year across the globe, about half are created for single-use purposes. Used once, then thrown away.   

Last month, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe and producer Katelyn Harrop decided to take stock of the role single-use plastics play in their daily lives by embarking on the Plastic Free July challenge, and they invited listeners across the state to join them on the journey. The goal seemed simple: go one month without using any single-use plastics.  But, spoiler alert… It wasn’t easy.

Credit Tyler Winkey
Tyler and Kelsey Winkey use reusable produce bags to cut down on single-use plastics while grocery shopping.

On today’s program, Nebbe and Harrop bring you dispatches from listeners who did their best to reduce their own plastic consumption and waste last month. From plastic-free bridal showers to finding a less wasteful option during happy hour, listeners submitted their audio diaries throughout the month as they attempted to live free of plastic waste.

Stratis Giannakourois, Director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment at the University of Iowa explains the many impacts of plastics, and dives into the not-so-simple steps that need to be taken to reduce the environmental impacts of single-use waste.

Joining the program:

  • Stratis Giannakouros, Director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment at the University of Iowa.
  • Jonathan Green, participant in the Plastic Free July challenge and mayor of Lone Tree.
  • Kelsey Winkey, participant in the Plastic Free July challenge from Cedar Falls.

In addition to those who joined the program, thank you to Tyler Winkey, Paul Gilbert and Jackie Curnick and the many other listeners who joined us in this challenge last month.

Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa