Have you seen the documentary Addicted to Plastic? (You can find the trailer on YouTube.) In the film, a young man takes us on his journey to travel the world studying plastics: how they are made, how we dispose of them, the health and environmental impacts of plastic, and how this material is everywhere! Some of this plastic is pretty easy to see. It’s almost impossible to buy food at the grocery store that doesn’t come in plastic packaging, but look a little further and you’ll see just how extreme this “addiction” is. Think about everything else that has plastic in it…our electronics, our polyester clothing and sheets, our appliances, office supplies… it’s almost hard to find something that doesn’t have plastic in it.
So, what’s the problem?
Plastic never disappears and we’re seeing the detrimental effects of plastic on marine life and in our water sources. Plastic can degrade into very small, microscopic pieces, but it will never fully disappear. Find more info on NOAA’s webpage.
It’s not that plastics are all bad. It’s actually an incredible material—it’s strong, malleable and durable and has been used for extraordinary purposes like heart valves and medical devices. The problem is how our society views plastics as a whole—disposable and easily replaced.
What to Do About Plastic
King County’s EcoConsumer, Tom Watson, has tips on just what to do about this daunting plastics problem. There are new alternatives to plastics available to use that can help us change our habits to reduce our plastic consumption and reuse our old plastics. Here are just a few EcoConsumer tips on using alternatives for plastics:
- Start with easy alternatives, such as reusable shopping bags and reusable water bottles.
- Don’t just throw it away! Reuse your plastics and don’t just replace a plastic an item because there is a newer one out there. Plastic IS durable and lasts forever, so use it as long as you can!
- Once you’ve got these practices down, start incorporating more alternatives. Try bringing your own containers for take-out food, buy bar soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles, or use rechargeable batteries!
- If using plastic is your only option, then buy a plastic you know you can recycle!