Take stock of all the plastic around you – your cellphone, clothes, shoes and it just keeps going. With the introduction of plastic in the ’50s, our use of it has expanded such that we consume about 450 million tons each year. Of that, around 40 percent is disposable. And our oceans are where the majority of that plastic ends up. So, imagine five plastic garbage bags stuffed with plastic, on every foot of coastline worldwide, and you’ll be close.
A World Economic Forum report stated that the world’s oceans could have more plastic than fish in them by 2050!
But what about recycling? About 20 percent of plastic worldwide gets recycled. In the U.S., it’s less than 10 percent. And then there’s the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. Some 100 billion are produced yearly, which means each day everyone in the U.S. can toss one out. Just in Colorado, an estimated 2 billion disposable plastic bags are used by shoppers each year.
Why not ban single-use plastic? Or start small and enact a plastic bag ban locally, like Aspen, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Boulder, Avon and Basalt did? Or maybe a 10-cent-per-disposable-bag fee to encourage using your own reusable bags and to help pay for recycling?
But as with all solutions, it starts with us, our actions, or the buying of, and use of, plastics, and our speaking out or voting to stop that which is polluting our world. After all, we somehow managed without plastics before the ’50s, and the world was a lot healthier for it!