By Dianna Cohen | Triple Pundit | September 2, 2015
Look around you. Our world is full of single-use plastic, meant to be used once and thrown away. And though some of it — depending on the type of plastic — could potentially be recycled or downcycled, the truth is that the majority of it becomes instant garbage, and much of it is winds up fouling our oceans and environment.
While our modern society no doubt depends on, and often benefits from, numerous products made from plastics and synthetic materials, we all too frequently default to single-use and disposables when there are perfectly good, often better and certainly healthier and longer lasting — perhaps even natural, alternatives.
To illustrate the point, consider a meal at your local eatery. Food may well be served to you on a single-use plastic plate with disposable plastic utensils. Often, your drink will come with a plastic straw – the cup itself made of plastic. If the restaurant serves wine, enjoy, but it’s possible the bottle will be sealed with a plastic stopper or aluminum screw cap lined with a plastic coating. When it’s time to leave, your leftovers may well be handed to you in a plastic or polystyrene container.
Is all this plastic a good thing? The world produces 300 million tons of plastic each year — and while much of it may be marketed as “disposable,” in the U.S, less than 22 percent of the material is actually recycled. As actor, activist and Plastic Pollution Coalitionambassador Jeff Bridges says in a new video: “Plastic is a material the earth cannot digest. Every piece of plastic ever made is still with us.” It continues to accumulate in the environment, to leach toxins into our groundwater and foul our oceans. And harmful chemicals leached by plastics are present in the bloodstream and tissue of almost every one of us, including newborns.
Don’t believe the price of convenience in our throwaway culture is too high? Look also at these compelling images by Chris Jordan, which capture plastic pollution in the stomachs of dead, desiccated, adolescent Laysan albatross nesting on Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
These birds are a metaphor for us. We are stuffing ourselves full of plastic and the toxins that leach from plastic into our bodies, and we don’t even know it.
What can we do about it? We can start by refusing and replacing the most common, easily avoidable single-use plastic items in our lives
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