Recycling is NOT the “Best” Answer

I’m so proud to live in a city that is making great efforts to reduce its trash; to teach and learn about recycling and composting and all that. But we still have a big problem, folks,  and it will take more than McMinnville to solve it. However, McMinnville people have to be part of it as well.

The desire for status quo is so strong. People really hate to change habits and that includes corporate America as much or even more than each person who fights issues like a single use bag ban. We Americans have a love affair with oil and plastic.  Too many people can’t see what other options can work as well and major manufacturers know what they know and most of the time, want to just continue business as usual.

Corporations know that to modify their system will cost money. A change not only means identifying a more sustainable solution that provides similar safety and product preservation, but retooling assembly lines for those new items. That costs money and they like to EARN money, not spend it.

As long as we consumers are quiet and don’t complain, things will stay the same. This issue, like much else in our society, has to be driven from the grassroots.

When we understand that our fish and shellfish now has microplastics in it (yes, you are eating plastic…and it is IN YOU), when we read that even the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the Marianas Trench, has plastic in it, the time is past when we should act. So, let’s get going!

Let’s start with identifying major players in the plastic pollution world. When people do massive clean-ups along beaches around the world, many inventories are done to identify just what is ending up in the ocean. (This blog is not about addressing the problems of waste management and how trash ends up in the sea. Personal and societal behaviors are a whole other blog subject!)

In a recent inventory of a massive beach clean-up in the Pacific, it became clear that certain brands are packaging their food products in plastic that are showing up in humongous amounts.

plastic pollution survey
source: Eco-Business

It is time for us to tell them to find substitutes. It is time to stop buying those plastic containers and tell them we will go back to their product when they become more sustainable.

Now, some of these corporations have made some changes and a few others have some packaging that is not plastic.  McDonald’s, for example, has posted their goals to be implemented by 2030 (WHAT????? 11 years away??? WHY so long?) to become a more sustainable food service company.  Most of these deal with sourcing their food from more sustainable farming practices. This year they revamped their packaging, getting away from Styrofoam and also not handing out plastic straws unless requested.  Since McDonald’s is global, environmental advocates hope that they will set an example that will be followed by others.

Meanwhile, you have the top users of plastic (Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Nestle) saying they will source all their bottles with recycled plastic by 2025. The problem with sounding green like this is few people realize that less than 10% of all plastic used in the world is actually recycled. That means our appetite for plastic requires more and more NEW plastic to be manufactured.

Image result for plastic trash in ocean
source: Eco-Business

When we hear that as a nation, the US is no longer dependent on oil from the Middle East, it boggles my mind (perhaps yours also) that our pristine wilderness areas in the West and Alaska are now being sold for mineral rights, including drilling for more oil.  The environmental costs will be horrendous as damage is caused that will not be able to be repaired.  The loss of pristine ecosystems, the destruction of habitat, is probably the last thing on the mind of people who seek the next corporate profit.Image result for oil exploration in alaska

But we, the consumers, are what drives profit. We can affect that NOW. If you buy soda, buy it in glass bottles. In fact, look for glass for packaging where many plastics are now used.  Check out GoodGuide to learn how over 75,000 products meet or fail environmental and health standards. Use your buying power to help drive corporations to make healthier decisions for your body and the planet.  Please.

source: Gunther Report

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