Happy Earth Day!
What does Earth Day have to do with bariatric patients? First, a little background is needed. A group of people in the 1960s were becoming concerned about the adverse effects of pollution on our environment. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River by Cleveland, OH caught fire because of chemicals that were dumped into the river. Environmental pollution was now on the national political landscape. Senator Gaylord Nelson, (D-Wisconsin), is credited with promoting the idea of Earth Day. He envisioned a growing a grassroots effort to clean up our planet. This led to celebrating the first U.S. Earth Day in 1970 and is celebrated on April 22. Earth Day went global in 1990. From this effort, Americans have seen the establishment of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, Endangered Species Act and several other environmental initiatives. So, how does this relate to bariatric patients? The focus of the 2018 Earth Day celebration is “End Plastic Pollution.” Last weekend’s Parade magazine featured several environmental efforts by Americans. A story from Seattle caught my attention. Americans use about 500 million plastic straws per day. Seattle is our nation’s first major city to ban plastic straws offered to the public by businesses such as restaurants. This will stop 1 million plastic straws per month going into the city’s trash per month. That’s a bunch of straws. As a bariatric patient, we ask you to avoid straws so you don’t fill your stomach pouch with air, which can be quite uncomfortable. What can you use instead of straws? Reusable drinking containers with a pop-up sports top or a flip top opening come to mind. Sipping out of the side a glass is a habit to consider. You can reduce plastic pollution by using reusable containers to pack your food, fabric shopping bags to carry home your protein shakes or by recycling plastic containers that held your protein powder. Check out earthday.org for more ideas. Let’s start off by ditching those plastic straws, y'all!