Beyond Plastics and CHGT

CHGT became an affiliate of Beyond Plastics in August 2023. 

Launched in January 2019, Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of grassroots advocates to build a vibrant and effective movement to end plastic pollution. Beyond Plastic uses deep policy and advocacy expertise to build a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet, and ourselves, from the negative health, climate, and environmental impacts of the production, usage, and disposal of plastics. CHGT will be leveraging their resources and extensive knowledge as we advocate for and implement solutions to decrease single use plastic waste across Cleveland Heights.

Dr. Kathy Smachlo is CHGT's liaison to Beyond Plastics. In her blog, she shares information about the harmful effects of plastic and provide  tips on simple actions we can take in our everyday life. 

What goes up DOES come down!

Helium-filled balloons.... When released to “float away”, they actually don’t “go away”. They drop back to earth, ending up perhaps 1000s of miles away. 

Turtles, dolphins, birds, fish, and smaller creatures mistake them and their degrading pieces for food.  Death due to obstructed gastrointestinal track can occur.

Their ribbons can entangle animals on land and in water. They can cause hazards to aircraft and the electric grid, causing fires and power outages. 

Helium is a non-renewable valuable and needed resource (MRIs, superconductors). There is already a world-wide shortage of helium.  

So! Let’s celebrate celebrating without helium balloons!

Foods and Plastics –a Harmful Combination

Did you know that a preliminary estimate by some scientists that the plastic the average person may be eating and drinking totals as much as 5 grams per week, which is the equivalent of the size of a credit card? 

Over 98% of plastics are made from fossil fuels.  Plastics are comprised of carbon polymers to which a mix of 1000’s of chemicals is added, many of which are highly toxic.  Some examples of these chemicals are PFAS, phthalates, dioxins, benzene, PCBs, Bisphenols, and heavy metals.

This is true of all plastics, even so-called “bio-plastics”. Though plastic containers and packaging may claim “no BPA” they do not mention what chemicals ARE in it.  There are no rules for disclosing plastic ingredients. 

So, what happens when one drinks a liquid from a plastic bottle, or eats from plastic dishware or food wrapped in plastic?

The plastic releases both tiny fragments of plastic (micro- and nano- plastics) and the chemicals they contain into the liquid and foods.  When ingested, these enter the blood stream from the gastrointestinal tract, and can travel to organs, brain, placenta, breast milk, and unborn child, with potential toxic effects such as: dysfunction of endocrine, neurologic, immune, reproductive, and cardiovascular systems.  They also increase the risk of certain cancers, infertility, gastrointestinal problems, and abnormal fetal development.

Foods and Plastics are indeed a Bad Combination.  Learn more about this topic and ways to eat less plastic.

6 Ways to Use Less Plastic

While it’s practically impossible to eliminate plastic from modern life, there are a number of steps you can take right now to cut back.


Do: Drink tap water.

Don’t: Rely on bottled water. 


Do: Heat food in or on the stove, or by microwaving in glass.

Don’t: Microwave in plastic. 


Do: Buy and store food in glass, silicone, or foil.

Don’t: Store food in plastic, especially plastic that may contain harmful chemicals. 


Do: Eat fresh food as much as possible.

Don’t: Rely on processed food wrapped in plastic. 


Do: Vacuum regularly.

Don’t: Allow household surfaces to get dusty. 


Do: Work with your community.

Don’t: Assume your impact is limited to what you do in your personal life.

Work with your community: Legislation to limit the use of single-use plastics and plastic production may pull the biggest levers, but joining forces with community-level recycling groups can truly make a difference. Look for so-called zero-waste groups, which can offer guidelines for how to recycle or compost all your garbage—and which lobby for local rules that can restrict throwaway items. When possible, shop at markets that source goods locally, so they don’t require as much packaging and shipping. Seek out groups such as Upstream, a nonprofit working to create reusable takeout packaging for restaurants. And when possible, educate yourself about and support any city, county, and state legislation limiting single-use plastics.

PFAS and Bisphosphonates and Phthalates, OH MY!

Plastics and many of the thousands of chemicals they contain are harmful to human and environmental health. They are everywhere, and in all of us. We eat, breathe, drink, and absorb them through our skin.

 These chemicals interfere with our endocrine, metabolic, neurologic, reproductive systems, and have strong links to cancers, birth defects, decreased fertility, fetal development, and organ damage.  They are most harmful to pregnant women, unborn and young children.

What you must know:

1. Plastics leach chemicals and nanomicroplastics into the foods and liquids they touch, especially if they are hot or fatty. 

2. Many food and soda cans contain bisphosphonates, which leach into food and liquid. 

3. Our hands pick up nanomicroplastics and chemicals from our home/office environments.

4. Black plastic kitchenware is made from recycled electronics, high in toxins.