By Paula White
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, by now you probably know that there are eco-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging, everything from compostable straws made from paper or spaghetti noodles, water bottles made of algae, to shipping containers made from mushrooms. Cities, states, and counties have banned plastic bags, styrofoam food containers, plastic straws and other plastic packaging. So why do we humans still generate mountains of plastic waste every day?
In the classic 1967 film The Graduate, the main character Ben is at a graduation party when an executive takes him aside to give him some advice. “Plastics,” he says. And the rest, as they say, is history. I remember when I was a child glass soda bottles were still returned for deposit. You brought them back to the store and got a nickel back, and they got put in a crate and were picked up by the truck and returned to the bottling plant. Today glass soda bottles are a novelty item, and according to manufacturers, consumers prefer the convenience of a resealable, unbreakable, and light material. Furthermore, plastic bottles are recyclable, so where’s the harm?
Unfortunately, the U.S plastic recycling rate is just 8%. Here’s another inconvenient truth: the entire life cycle of plastic from extraction, to manufacturing, to distribution, to disposal generates tons of fossil fuels and other pollutants. And communities (and countries) where black, indigenous and people of color reside are much more likely to be burdened by these impacts. Not only are communities burdened by the impacts, but also burdened by the lack of choice to purchase anything but plastic, and often this is single use plastic. Don’t take my word for it–come to our virtual screening of the movie The Story of Plastic and get a full detailed scoop on the life cycle of plastic and why plastic production continues to rise despite all the human rights abuses. Afterwards, stick around for a discussion. Bring your own popcorn!
And mark your calendars for Coastal Cleanup Day events that are taking place all over the Bay Area, the state of California, and across the entire world on Saturday, September 17, from 9-12 am. Check our website for more information on getting involved.