Saturday, July 9, 2022

Revisiting the Plastic-cyclopedia

After brushing up on our vocabulary a week ago with the Plastic-cyclopedia post, this mockumentary "commercial" post about "plastic soup" felt like the perfect follow up. Especially since it's Plastic Free July.

Yum, who doesn't want a bowl of that! 🙄

I've been doing some digging for an upcoming one day summer class I am teaching with a coworker: "Building Global & Environmental Citizens in Our Classrooms" where we are doing a deep dive into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (more on that in a future post). Along the way with that research and also while I was doing a deep dive into plastic vernacular from my previous post, I landed on this article by Maria Westerbos (Founder & Director of the Plastic Soup Foundation): "How the Sustainable Development Goals Can Help Fight ‘Plastic Soup’-- 3 Actions Key to Curbing Plastic Pollution Around the World. In it, she noted show fighting oceanic plastic hits the following goals indirectly:

  • #3: Good health and well-being--Our sea life won't be consuming toxic materials, which creates healthier food for humans.
  • #6: Clean water and sanitation--Just take a look at that Plastic Soup video again for verification on this one!
  • #11: Sustainable cities and communities--The lack of pollution will help eliminate toxic environments.
  • #12: Responsible consumption and production--Eliminating a throw away mindset leads to the betterment of the planet.
  • #13: Climate action--Plans for addressing climate change lead to a healthier planet.
  • #14: Life below water--Plastic is detrimental to sea life.
  • #15: Life on land--Smarter decisions regarding litter and plastic consumption overall will help create a cleaner environment.
Thin plastic (such as bags) could potentially photodegrade in a year in sunlight....but especially in a landfill, it could take upwards of of 500 years or more to decompose. One plastic cup could certainly become a multi-generational problem given those statistics. As I think of my fridge alone, I see plastic everywhere I look: the dreaded individually wrapped cheese (which I hate to buy but sometimes have no other options), milk containers, salad dressing jars, mustard containers, and more.

As Ms. Westerbos recommends in her article, the three things we need to do our best to do is:
  • Keep plastic from entering our environment (what I like to call "refuse" -- the 4th of the 3 R's);
  • Avoid health risks such as plastic products leaching into foods, beverages, and even the soil;
  • Reduce comes before reuse which comes before recycle in the 3 R's.
Some of this starts with better waste management. (Recycling should be too much easier! Each municipality has its own rules based on its own sorting equipment, and often times it's as clear as mud, making me wonder if we are all wishcycling!!!) 

Additionally, in a world where the price of gasoline is downright ridiculous right now, what are we doing using so much petroleum on useless, single-use plastic?!

The Plastic Health Coalition is a good place to turn--companies dedicated to helping fight for the solution to our planetary plastic problem! Research and innovation to help solve the problem is always a good place to start! Likewise, it reminds me of this quote and how we each need to be starting individually--in our homes, places of work, communities, local and national governments!

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