The solution is not recycling. Even with the upswing in recycling, plastic has become a serious contamination problem, including the Great Pacific Garbage Dump (mostly plastic) that is the size of Texas in the middle of the ocean. If you’re not familiar with it, just Google it and be dismayed at how we are trashing our oceans with plastic.
Answers remain relatively simple: stop buying single-use plastic. Stop buying plastic disposable water and soft drinks bottles. Stop using plastic bags. Fifty years ago, we survived quite well without them and we can do so again. Here are two easy ways to make a difference.
Use refillable water bottles instead of plastic. Use a glass or stainless steel reusable bottle and refill rather than using and tossing plastic bottles. Never refill or reuse disposable plastic bottles — the chemicals can leach into the water. Remember that recycling is not as efficient or clean as reusing. Even if 100 percent of plastics were recycled, there is tremendous chemical and oil-based energy used for recycling. Avoid it by choosing refillable bottles or buying drinks in cans or bottles. Savings to your health, the environment and your wallet will balance the minor inconvenience.
As for plastic bags, there is hardly ever a reason to accept them. Keep a few canvas bags in your car. I stash my reusable bags in a small wire storage cube that sits conveniently in the back seat. As you exit the car, you will learn to ask yourself if you need a bag. It becomes a simple habit that makes a huge difference.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition has many more alarming facts and several useful ideas on avoiding plastic. They also propose an addition to the three R’s of “reduce, reuse and recycle.” Refuse disposable plastics. Say no to plastic.