Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘90s campaign ‘Plastics Make It Possible!’ in light of this latest cover and issue of National Geographic.
As much as we’d like to think of technological innovation and advancement as an exponentially rising curve, all new inventions and breakthroughs come with unintended consequences.
Plastics have undoubtedly created a wealth of benefits to mankind – from easing the transport and preservation of food and water, creating artificial limbs, new appliances and computers; plastics touch almost every aspect of our lives.
But the road to… you know where… is paved with good intentions.
91% of plastics are not recycled and humans have produced about 8.3 billion tons of it. It takes around 1,000 years for your average piece of plastic waste to decompose, and a vast majority of that refuse ends up in our rivers, lakes and streams.
In the Pacific Ocean there is currently what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating mass of soda bottles, six-pack rings, food packaging – anything you can imagine. It is currently twice the size of Texas, and three-times the size of France.
Plastic straws are an especially big problem – over 500 million plastic straws are used every day in America alone.
If that’s not a call to action, I don’t know what is.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – everyday people, scientists and activists are waking up to the scope of this problem. Currently in Japan scientists ‘accidentally’ created an enzyme that actually eats plastic bottles – how cool is that!?
Recently Danny Meyer, who oversees the massive and influential restaurant coalition in New York the Union Square Hospitality Group has announced a ban on plastic straws on all restaurants under the moniker.
You can do your part too! Using plastic alternatives like pyrex, or reusable Tupperware to pack food are obvious steps – but there are a great number of organizations making items like metal, paper or biodegradable straws, food packaging and other alternatives.
Here are some ideas to help you get started, either on a personal, brand or institutional level: