Are you concerned about the plastic problem everyone seems to be talking about? Are you afraid that plastic pollution will eventually get so bad that it poses a serious threat to the future of the planet? If so, lobbying politicians or protesting on the streets is not the best thing you can do. Instead, stop using plastic.
The plastic debate has been raging for a long time. Does recycling work or not? Should we even be making it? Is it unsafe for the environment? The questions are not new.
Recycling Began in the 70s
According to Seraphim Plastics, a Tennessee company that buy plastic and recycles it (industrial scrap plastic), a consortium was formed back in the 1970s to begin pushing plastic recycling in hopes of imitating already successful glass and paper recycling. Some 50 years later, we recycle even less plastic – as a percentage of how much we produce – than we did in the 1970s.
It is clear that recycling offers limited benefits. It’s also clear that municipal recycling programs have been an abject failure. So now, the focus seems to be on banning plastic. But guess what? That’s never going to happen. Plastic is too pervasive to get rid of now.
Plastic Just Works
Whether you consider the invention of plastic a happy accident or the sinister work of corporations looking to do things on the cheap, you cannot reasonably deny that it just works. Look around you. There is so much plastic in your own home that its usefulness as a manufacturing material is undeniable.
Why has plastic become the world’s number one manufacturing material? Because it is:
- cheap to produce
- easy to manufacture
- lightweight and durable
- easily molded into different shapes.
There are things we can do with plastic that are impossible with paper, glass, and metal. Think of your cell phone. It has a circuit board inside, a circuit board that is made of plastic and without which your phone wouldn’t run. No plastic means no cell phones.
Global Corporations Are Not to Blame
Global corporations are guilty of a lot of unsavory behavior. They do a lot of bad things. So it’s no surprise that a core group of organizations dead set against consumer plastics point the finger of blame at corporations. But the blame should not be laid at their feet – at least not all of it.
We consumers want cheap. We want convenient. We want easy. Plastic facilitates manufacturing products that meet all our demands. Corporations are merely giving us what we want. How do we get them to stop giving it to us? We stop using it.
If the vast majority of consumers stopped buying bottled beverages, manufacturers would have no market for their bottles. They would stop making them. If we all stopped using single-use coffee cups in favor of travel mugs, manufacturers would stop making the cups.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Manufacturers are smart enough to know that consumer actions speak louder than words. We may say we want to get rid of plastics, but we don’t want to do what’s necessary to make it happen. That is the ironic part.
If we truly want to eliminate single-use plastic food containers, we’re all going to have to get back into the habit of daily shopping and learning to cook at home. And when we do buy take-out, will have to be willing to pay more. We cannot get rid of plastic without consequences. And if we are not willing to face and accept the consequences, the chances of actually eliminating plastic are pretty slim.