What We're Doing
Eliminating and reducing plastic products takes efforts from everyone. The River Museum is proud to model change, in hopes that others will be inspired to make the change as well. We have implemented the following to help reduce the number of plastic products in our environment.
- No plastic bags in our retail stores
- Reusable water bottle refill stations
- No petroleum based plastic straws
- No plastic cutlery
- Reduced-plastic packaging in our gift shops
- No plastics in to-go containers
The Teens Take C.A.A.R.E Program helps high school students get involved within the community to inspire change with sustainability practices and education. The group organized a project with the Hotel Julien in Dubuque to develop a took kit for incorporating environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, housekeeping items, and a resource guide to continue the partnership.
Teens Take C.A.A.R.E was featured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for their project. Click the link below to read more!
Effects from Afar
At least 80% of ocean plastic comes from land-based sources, and 75% of that total comes from uncollected waste while the remainder is a result of gaps in the collection system. Plastic is the most abundant type of marine debris on a global scale, negatively impacting more than 700 species through entanglement and ingestion. Freshwater species are not immune from this either: microplastics that come from cigarette butts or even small particles found in health and beauty products.
Species like sea turtles, for example, that prey on Moon Jellies fall victim to the increased plastic in the ocean. When plastic resembles a food item floating in the water, predators cannot tell the difference. If you look at both photos, you can see the resemblances plastic bags have to a Moon Jelly. One way we can reduce the confusion is reducing plastic bag use, and programs like the City of Dubuque's Bring Your Own Bag. A small change in our community can be felt far away! Learn more about the initiative below!
Let's Break it Down!
Just because we may not think about our trash once it's gone doesn't mean we SHOULDN'T think about what happens next. In general, most things we throw away take longer to break down than we think! According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American will produce 5 lbs. of municipal solid waste per day, so that adds up quick!
What can we do to reduce that waste? Reuse or repurpose items when possible to prevent something from ending up in a landfill. Swap out plastic-based items like straws for natural ones like agave straws (which we use at the River Museum!) or bring your own water bottle and refill it!
Here are some surprising statistics about the lifespan of waste items:
- Paper bag or newspaper - breaks down in 7 weeks
- Banana - breaks down in 2 years
- Agave straws - break down in 3 years
- Styrofoam - breaks down in 50 years
- Exterior battery covering - breaks down in 100 years (the interior metals NEVER break down)
- Plastic straws - break down in 200 years
- Plastic bottles - break down in 450 years
- Disposable diaper - breaks down in 500 years
- Plastic bag - breaks down in 1,000 years
- Glass bottles - break down in 1 million years