A student recently asked me what we could do about all the excess plastic in our lives, especially at our school. I was at a bit of a loss because the problem seems so intractable. However I’ve been inspired by some things I’ve been reading about from my home state of California to the nearby state of Tamil Nadu.
In California they are trying to ban plastic bags. In Chennai they are saying no to plastic all together!
Apparently it’s an annual event for the Chennai Trekking Club to organise a coastal cleanup and run an awareness campaign. This year seems to be focused on the problem of plastics, which can be especially dangerous for sea life already. They asked people to take the #NoPlasticChallenge to see what they can give up in order to reduce their contribution to the waste problem.
In other news a 16 year old Egyptian scientist has found a way to turn plastic into biofuel. Meanwhile a young American woman has found a way to live a truly zero-waste lifestyle. And there’s a terrific DIY tutorial to make your own alternative to plastic wrap. And the Karuna Society is working to protect cows from all of the plastic they ingest when they wander around garbage patches in which food waste (that could have easily been composted) is placed into plastic bags. TerraCycle is turning cigarette butts (which contain plastic) into park benches and all sorts of other creative products–better yet: they have a method you can use to participate in their project if you’re in North America.
If you’re still not convinced that plastic is a problem and you’re not yet ready to give it up, take a look at these photographs of animals whose lives are damaged by their exposure to plastic or read this new graphic novel about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You can also check out this piece and its accompanying infographic (pasted below) about why drinking water out of plastic bottles can be toxic, but also see how this can be a problem when you live in a place to easily access safe and clean drinking water.
Maybe the links above will inspire you to minimise the plastic you use. But I also hope we can create some kind of campaign to get companies to reduce the plastic they use. I especially think this should be the case with socially conscious companies like SoulTree or Maroma, which use plastic bottles but then seal those bottles with a layer of plastic around the entire plastic bottle. This seems quite unnecessary whether that plastic is recycled or not. It’s excessive.
It’s worth taking the time to email these kinds of companies because as I found out in my discussion with Common Oxen, they are already looking at repackaging precisely because customers have expressed a desire to have less wasteful packaging!