A few days into plastic challenge and things are going fairly well

February has begun and so has my avid avoidance of plastic. In a recent column, I challenged myself to see how much unnecessary plastic I end up using during the course of one month, and to try my best not use any one-time-use plastics.

Any time I use a piece of plastic this month, I will hold onto it. By the end of the month, I’ll be able to to really see the impact I can have on the environment in just 28 days.

Armed with my handy notebook, I am also keeping a running tally of how many pieces of plastic I’m able to successfully avoid. So far, there have not been many days in February and I have had one success and one instance where I rate myself “needs improvement.”

Here’s my success: I went out to eat one day, and I made sure I was going to a restaurant that didn’t use disposable cups, because I didn’t have a reusable one with me. Then, once I was at the restaurant, I used a metal straw instead of the plastic one I was offered. So I successfully avoided putting one straw into a landfill, which I feel very good about.

Here’s my “needs Improvement” experience: I really wanted coffee last week and I went to a fast food place for an iced coffee. While in line, I decided that I didn’t need an iced coffee because it comes in a big plastic cup. So I got a hot coffee instead. I thought that would be okay, but I forgot that there is a one-time-use plastic lid on my cup of coffee. That lid became the first item in my February stash of one-time-use plastics. As I write this column, it’s still the only item in there, which I feel pretty good about, even though it’s only a few days into the month.

And there is a silver lining: The lid is a recyclable No. 1, so when this study is over, I can put it in my recycling bin and it will get turned into something else.

I anticipate that my biggest challenge this month will be plastic bags, so I’m already on the defense against them. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Animal Valentine’s

February is also the month of love. To celebrate, I am going to share some animal facts about hearts that I love:

Octopuses have three hearts.

The blue whale has the largest heart of any animal. Its heart weighs about 400 pounds. While it’s not as big as a car like some people say, it measures about 5 ft. x 4 ft. x 5ft. That means a blue whale heart is almost as tall as me.

On land, the largest heart award goes to the African elephant. Their hearts weigh about 30 pounds.

Sea stars don’t have hearts. That’s OK because they don’t have blood that needs pumping.

Frogs have two chambers in their hearts; snakes have three chambers in their hearts. In comparison, human hearts have four chambers.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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