Recycling Won’t Cut It, We Must Reduce Plastic Use

One thing not mentioned in the article is we can use shampoo bars rather than liquid shampoos in bottles.

Want to Leave the World Less Cluttered? Stop Relying on Recycling and Do This Instead

We can no longer rely on simple solutions like recycling to solve our plastic waste problem.

The severity of the problem of plastic pollution can be seen on almost any roadway or beach today.
Photo Credit: 5 Gyres

The following article, part of a content partnership between Stone Pier Press and Earth | Food | Life (EFL), a project of the Independent Media Institute, is the first installment of “Plastic Pollution — Plastic Solutions,” an exclusive five-part EFL series. Check the EFL site for new weekly installments.

Many Americans who diligently recycle know little about where their plastic ends up, but we could count on China to take it in and process it for us—until recently. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we recycle roughly 66 million tons of material each year, and our waste systems aren’t equipped to handle such large quantities, which is why close to one-third of those materials got exported. That changed this year, however, when the Chinese government said it would “ban imports of various types of plastics and papers” and reject shipments that were more than 0.5 percent impure.

As China and other buyers continue to ratchet up their quality standards, the amount of plastic occupying landfills has grown to worrying heights. What doesn’t land there quickly finds its way into the world’s oceans. It’s estimated that more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are floating on the ocean’s surface and that virtually every seabird will be eating plastic by 2050. Seabirds are just some of the thousands of marine species affected; if fish are eating plastic, that plastic moves up the food chain.

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Graphical abstract from Science Direct.

Once in the water, plastic breaks down into microplastics, tiny particles less than five millimeters in size. “These microplastics can act like sponges, attracting persistent pollutants like chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” explains Rachel Sarnoff, executive director of 5 Gyres, one of several organizations working to combat the problem of plastic pollution, and highlighting what can be done about it. “Tiny organisms eat these toxic microplastics, then are eaten by small fish, and then by larger animals,” she says.

Even among those of us trying to pick food that’s healthy for our bodies and our planet, little thought is given to where or how

Continue reading.

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