Those grocery store plastic bags blowing about parking lots are the new modern tumbleweeds. Many cities have begun passing laws to ban them, particularly seaside communities. But our plastic issue goes much deeper than just those hideous little bags.
Plastic is everywhere. Every sip of water most people have comes from a janky plastic bottle that may or may not end up in a trash container. We are producing twenty times the plastic today than we were in the 1960’s. And we aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is now citing a dramatic warning to the world: We are now on the precipice of environmental catastrophe. And that’s with a particular emphasis on the oceans. By 2050, our plastics production will have quadrupled.
40% of all plastics end up heading to the landfills, only around 5% are truly recycled for the benefit of the earth. Another third ends up in our oceans.
By 2050, the report claims, we can expect more plastics in the ocean than we have fish.
According to the report: “at least 8m tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean – which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish [by weight].”
This means an overload of bisphenol A (BPA), DDT, PCBs in the waters. Of course, BPA is linked to cancer, obesity, and infertility. Now our sea mammals will swim amongst it in lesser numbers.
The documentary, Plastic Paradise, says there is one place to start in terms of solving this issue.
“One part of the solution is to rethink the way goods are packaged, cutting the demand for plastic. Water-soluble film, for example, can be used to wrap small items. Hard-to-recycle plastics such as PVC and expandable polystyrene could be phased out. […]
Manufacturers could redesign plastic items so they can be reused better, and rethink their production methods to make recycling easier. More products could be made out of plastics which can be composted on an industrial scale, including rubbish bags for organic waste and food packaging for outdoor events, canteens and fast food outlets.” [source]
What can we do?
Stop using those grocery plastic bags. You can purchase and carry your own bags into the store which are a far better option anyways. Look for biodegradable from products you use and push companies to want to compete on an environmental safety level. Companies are driven by what consumers find to be important. So make it a priority.