Plastic is responsible for climate change, pollution, the death of our ocean life, and for the environmental calamity that we are experiencing, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s the thing. Nowadays, there’s a rush to be binary – everything either IS or ISN’T – either you’re with us or against us, you’re bad or good: but few things are that simple. And certainly not plastic. Let’s debunk the plastic problem.
Claim: Plastic is responsible for the death of our oceans and climate change.
Truth: Single-use plastic is responsible for the death of our oceans and contributes most to climate change. The majority of the plastic in the ocean that was slowly but is now swiftly and surely killing our ocean life is single-use – you know, a bottle of soda or water, a disposable cutlery set, grocery bags and disposable sandwich bags, and the dreaded plastic straw. Things you use just once and then toss in the trash! These items impact climate change since the ones that don’t wind up in the ocean must be managed as waste so quickly – landfills, waste incineration, and recycling all give off methane and carbon dioxide emissions which are direct causes of climate change. You can radically impact the world’s plastic problem by limiting your consumption of single-use plastics and choosing to bring your own reusable water bottles, cutlery sets, bags and straws.
Claim: We shouldn’t manufacture anything in plastic.
Truth: Some items make sense to be composed of plastic. Can you imagine creating all of the tiny parts of an electronic out of bamboo, glass, or metal? Imagine wearing headphones out of one of those materials, how heavy and uncomfortable that would be. Or think about giving a child a ball to play with made of wood. Multi-use products like electronics, children’s toys, and parts for cars and other modes of transport are positive uses of plastic. And using plastic in modes of transport has made them lighter which in turn reduces fuel consumption dramatically. Sometimes plastic makes sense. But only sometimes.
Claim: The problem is insurmountable, there’s nothing I can do.
Truth: You can do what we mentioned earlier and eliminate single-use plastics from your life, you can bring your old electronics that no longer work to your local recycling center to have them recycled, and you can donate your gently used children’s toys and other items that still have life in them so that someone else can keep them going. You can also let companies and legislators know that this matters to you so that they are held accountable. Just look at the number of cities and states that have banned plastic bags and straws recently – every step in the right direction brings us closer to the goal.