September 17, 2022
MCHD supports Alabama Coastal Cleanup
MOBILE, Ala. — September represents Environmental Awareness Month, with the goal of promoting the protection and conservation of our natural environment. The Mobile County Health Department’s Inspection Services division plays a vital role in this mission.
Imagine a warm summer evening, sitting on an outdoor, breezy patio of a local eatery, enjoying some dinner and a sunset over the waterway. Just then a strong gust of wind bellows, blows and launches several plastic straw wrappers into the air, off the deck and into the bay.
This scenario has become an all the more common experience when eating out. All one has to do is drive down any local street and witness the plethora of the various discarded plastic drink bottles, fast food containers, sporks and other debris carelessly discarded from our fast-paced, disposable litter lives. Bits of Styrofoam, plastics, and aluminum dance through traffic before eventually being washed into a storm drain and out to sea, negatively impacting the environmental, emotional, and mental health of our community.
The Alabama Coastal Cleanup each year offers one day of attempted rectification, one day to make up for the other 364 days of careless disregard. But one day can only do so much.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, takeout dining, curbside and delivery has seen a significant rise in popularity. With this rise in popularity of these dining options, so too has increased the amount of litter haplessly discarded on the side of the road.
Now for some numbers. In the peak of COVID roughly 89 percent of restaurant establishments offered some form of takeout, curbside or delivery, where about 61 percent offered only sit-down prior to the pandemic. And while take out dining has declined by about one-third in 2022, it is still significantly more popular than it was before the start of the pandemic. Fifty percent of adults now consider takeout services essential. Six out of 10 adults were more likely to have food delivered as compared to pre-COVID, and seven out of 10 for millennials.
Manufactures, retailers, and restaurants have viable options for mitigating and minimalizing the waste associated with this carry out trend in society. New biodegradable beverage containers, straws and wrappers are being developed. Containers made from compostable plant-based materials rather that petroleum-based plastics, paper straws as opposed to plastic, renewable bamboo swizzle sticks and reusable cups or metal straws, all offer more environmentally friendly choices.
Until more establishments switch over to these enviro-friendly, sustainable, and green forms of compostable and naturally degradable packing, it comes down to us to take the time to reduce, reuse and recycle, pick up a little trash and discard it where it belongs. Help to make a positive impact on the environment and our local community.
To learn more about the department, you may visit mchd.org/environmental-services.