Making the swap to a inexperienced financial system will have an effect on each facet of our lives. As Kathleen Rogers, president and CEO of EarthDay.org recently told Earth911, “We have a chance to completely rethink everything, from what we’re eating, to what we’re wearing, to what we’re sitting on, to our buildings and cars, everything.” In reality, simply eliminating plastic will contain that degree of change. Plastic is so ubiquitous in our lives – from the packaging defending our vegetables to the fleece sweatshirts on our backs – that it’s arduous to think about how we’d dwell with out it. But if we wish to cease local weather change, we’ve to attain a post-plastic world.
The Problems With Plastic
Just like electricity, plastic is constituted of pure gasoline. Between 4% and 8% of world oil consumption is said to plastics. Fossil gasoline extraction generates great greenhouse gasoline emissions. In 2015, emissions from plastics manufacturing launched as a lot GHG as 45 million passenger automobiles.
That identical 12 months, U.S. emissions from plastics incineration had been 5.9 million metric tons of CO2-eq. That’s an environmental justice drawback since incinerators are disproportionately situated close to impoverished communities and communities of shade. Even extra unjust, in locations with out sufficient waste processing, plastic is usually burned within the open, the place it releases a cocktail of poisonous chemicals together with “black carbon,” a pollutant with a world warming potential 5,000 occasions larger than carbon.
When individuals don’t burn or landfill it, plastic continuously makes its manner into waterways and oceans. There, it poses a critical air pollution drawback forming huge garbage gyres and straight harming sea life. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, however daylight and warmth do trigger it to release greenhouse gases methane and ethylene because it breaks down into microscopic particles that enter the meals chain and bioaccumulate. Studies have discovered plastic in seafood. Bioaccumulation shouldn’t be the one supply of plastic within the human weight-reduction plan; individuals are eating plastic straight from packaging like water bottles, too. Because microplastics are a brand new drawback, scientists haven’t had time to carry out long-term research on them. As a consequence, nobody is aware of what their long-term impacts on human health will likely be.
Plastic-free existence are one thing of a fringe development within the environmental motion. Few individuals have the dedication and assets to reorder their lives round eliminating plastic. But these few individuals, like Beth Terry, encourage the remainder of us to cut back our plastic waste as a lot as attainable. Plastic Free July is a month-long problem that encourages individuals to cut back their plastic use. And EarthDay.org has a year-round marketing campaign to end plastic pollution.
“We eat the equivalent of a plastic credit card probably once a month. It’s everywhere in our bodies,” says Rogers. “Finally, two relatively small countries, Rwanda and Peru, got together and now have 53 countries signed onto the beginnings of what I hope will be a global plastics treaty which we are really focused on.” (Since this interview, the treaty was adopted by the U.N. with the ambition of finishing a world legally binding draft settlement by the tip of 2024.)
“The other thing we’re focused on – and this is part of plastics because there’s so much in our of it in our clothes – is the incredible impact of fast fashion,” says Rogers.
Individuals can do their half by supporting sustainable brands and avoiding fast fashion. Consumers can select repurposed furniture and different upcycled gadgets, from ornaments to light fixtures. We can get better at eliminating our personal plastic waste – particularly single-use plastics like grocery bags, water bottles, and plastic cutlery. To be extra hands-on, you can even be a part of within the Great Global Cleanup to assist take away waste plastic from the surroundings. Let your elected representatives know that you just help them in pushing for a robust ultimate draft of the plastics treaty and also you help the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.
But for now, even building supplies and furnishings include plastics. Most individuals will be unable to go plastic-free till there are handy options to plastic in the entire merchandise we want. If you’re a scientist, engineer, or inventor, you possibly can flip your consideration to creating a few of these choices. But the remainder of us can do our half by supporting innovation once we discover it. Keep an eye fixed out for emergent applied sciences that present the identical advantages as plastic with out the ecological drawbacks. There are a whole lot of promising developments in bioplastics, that are beginning to change some beverage bottles. Some mushroom and plant-based leathers are starting to exchange vinyl in clothes. Mushrooms are additionally getting used to make packaging and even insulation. The choices for a post-plastic world are rising day by day.
This article was initially revealed on April 1, 2022.