Paper or plastic? We’ve all been asked that question as we pay for our food at the grocery store. And out of convenience and habit, many of us opt for plastic. But over the years, we’ve created a plastic predicament:

  • Plastic waste generation is increasing in the U.S.
  • U.S. recycling rates for waste plastics are declining
  • China no longer accepts U.S. imports of plastic waste

John Knox Village resident Margo Lewis, a staunch environmental advocate, cares deeply about environmental issues facing our world.

Margo is a resident at John Knox Village and a fierce environmental advocate

The evils and perils of plastic

“We create garbage, throw things away and grab for more,” Margo says. In fact, the U.S. produces far more garbage and recycles far less compared to other developed countries. Margo believes that people are aware of plastic waste, but don’t feel personally impacted. “We react to the picture of a turtle with a plastic straw in its nostril, but that’s it.”

Just as alarming as our addiction to plastics is our consumption of plastics. Microplastics, or fibers and fragments, are ingested by fish and end up on our dinner plates. Although the consequences to human health are unknown, at this point, it can’t be good.

For these reasons, Margo and her environmental counterparts want John Knox Village residents to realize the enormity of the problem and take personal action. In the past year, Margo and her earth-friendly friends have worked to eliminate single-use plastic such as plastic grocery bags. “Plastics is just one steppingstone,” Margo says.

The Go Green Movement

The John Knox Village’s Go Green initiative is a grassroots effort to encourage residents to reduce single-use plastic on campus. Recently, Margo and her colleagues partnered with the John Knox Village Rotary Club to supply residents with reusable tote bags to carry their groceries and carryout food from the campus restaurants. The Go Green team has also encouraged residents to place carryout food in reusable containers and eliminate the need for Styrofoam boxes.

Although the Go Green program is less than a year old, it’s already making progress. “I see people marching around campus with green bags,” Margo says. However, she sees the need to increase awareness around the elimination of single-use plastic. “More people need to be aware and care,” Margo emphasizes.

A return to a less wasteful way of living

Margo puts a lot of stock into environmental awareness. A career advertising professional and copywriter, she creates articles for the John Knox Village newsletter, The Village Voice, and talks to friends and neighbors about the need to return to a less wasteful way of living. “People my age grew up with glass milk and soda bottles and returned them for money,” Margo said. “We made Halloween masks out of paper bags.”

But she believes that people get to a certain age and they believe the damage is done. “It’s not too late. We have to start caring about where we live.”

John Knox Village: Progressive in thought and action

Margo sees John Knox Village’s management team as forward-thinking on environmental issues. For example, Joe Mallen, Dining Services Manager, initiated paper straws before the Go Green Movement began. “He’s great to work with and fully embraced the dishwasher-safe, reusable takeout food containers,” Margo says. Already, the community uses recycled water from its lakes to irrigate the landscaping and soon dining services will begin a composting effort.

As for the Go Green team members, they plan to replace the current pet waste bags with biodegradable plant-based waste bags and work with the John Knox Village management team to use organic fertilizers for landscaping needs.

Margo’s second calling

When Margo isn’t inspiring others to become eco-friendlier, she travels to the “far away corners of the world.” A passion she shared with her late husband and business partner, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Margo enjoys the refreshing change of culture travel brings.

She holds fond memories of trips to Southeast Asia where the people are “kind and courteous.” And Margo recalls a trip she and Herschell made to Iran where they were greeted with warmth and curiosity and invited into people’s homes. “We tend to be afraid of what we don’t know,” Margo explains. “But people are people and it’s amazing how alike we are.”

John Knox Village is a community of forward-thinking and inspirational older adults. Whatever your passion, our community will help you grow, thrive and bond with people of similar interests. Request a free information kit or call us today at 954-783-4040.

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