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Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:09 PM

 

More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution

ecycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place.

As an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I have had a disturbing window into the accumulating literature on the hazards of plastic pollution. Scientists have long recognized that plastics biodegrade slowly, if at all, and pose multiple threats to wildlife through entanglement and consumption. More recent reports highlight dangers posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food.

Plastics also accumulate up the food chain, and studies now show that we are likely ingesting it ourselves in seafood. If we consumers are to blame, how is it possible that we fail to react when a study reports that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050? I would argue the simple answer is that it is hard. And the reason why it is hard has an interesting history.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/more-recycling-wont-solve-plastic-pollution/

Everything I buy seems to be wrapped in plastic -- except produce. And I put a plastic sack around my vegetables in the store.

Is so much plastic really necessary?

Sometimes I can just barely extract the product I just bought from its plastic shroud.

Do we really need so much plastic? Wouldn't life be better without a lot of it?

What can we do about this?

31 replies, 2091 views

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution (Original post)
Sophia4 Jul 2018 OP
Aristus Jul 2018 #1
Sophia4 Jul 2018 #2
Aristus Jul 2018 #4
jmowreader Jul 2018 #7
Sophia4 Jul 2018 #24
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #19
Sophia4 Jul 2018 #25
jmowreader Jul 2018 #27
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #29
jmowreader Jul 2018 #30
SamKnause Jul 2018 #3
Maraya1969 Jul 2018 #5
nolabear Jul 2018 #8
crazycatlady Jul 2018 #14
Lulu KC Jul 2018 #6
Lulu KC Jul 2018 #10
yonder Jul 2018 #13
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #22
yonder Jul 2018 #9
Lulu KC Jul 2018 #11
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #23
procon Jul 2018 #12
virgogal Jul 2018 #15
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #21
virgogal Jul 2018 #28
dembotoz Jul 2018 #16
ProfessorGAC Jul 2018 #31
Loki Liesmith Jul 2018 #17
csziggy Jul 2018 #18
Sophia4 Jul 2018 #26
LeftInTX Jul 2018 #20

Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:11 PM

1. Washington State has several municipalities than have banned, or are in the process of banning,

single-use plastics like grocery bags and drinking straws.

Every little bit helps.

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Response to Aristus (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:38 PM

2. Good. I'm always shocked when I go to see family in other states that they don't yet

 

at least have those plastic grocery bag laws.

It's so great to have a washable cloth bag to take to the grocery store over and over. I don't have to wash my bags that often, but the choice is mine. And I wash other clothes too. Why not wash my grocery bag once in a while?

Plus I can make my own cloth grocery bag and a lot of organizations use them to advertise. They hand them out to people. It's quite a thing in California. I love the reusable bags.

But still, why does everything I buy seem to come in a plastic case that is hard to remove. I sometimes have to resort to a knife or scissors just to reach a simple object like a new can opener.

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Response to Sophia4 (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:46 PM

4. Every once in a while, I hear this piece of idiocy from the anti-environment types:

Something along the lines of "Well you know, you have to use one of those canvas grocery bags a minimum of 300 times before there's any environmental benefit..."

That advice stinks, which is appropriate, since they probably pulled it out of their asses.

Every time you use a re-usable grocery bag, that's one less single-use plastic bag that will find its way either into a landfill or our waterways where it harms marine wildlife.

It's almost cute the way the idjits try to discredit environmental protection...

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Response to Aristus (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:52 PM

7. There are other benefits, though...

I have never had all the stuff in a canvas grocery bag fall to the ground because the handles ripped off. The cheap-ass plastic bags they give you are a different story.

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #7)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 03:56 PM

24. Right. And the cloth bags can be fun or even beautiful too.

 

You can be creative with cloth bags, not with the plastic ones.

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Response to Sophia4 (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:43 PM

19. Texas Supreme Court ruled that bag bans are unconstitutional

Yes, this state is soooo backward.....

I volunteer for campaigns and have a collection of corrugated plastic campaign signs. After an election, I can't get rid of them. They aren't recyclable. (Don't think corrugated plastic is recyclable anywhere)

I was told that shooting ranges will take them for target practice. I can't bring myself to do that.

Corrugated plastic signs are ubiquitous. Not only are they used by campaigns, they are used by realtors etc.

I bought some lip balm last night and the stuff was encased in so much plastic, that it required heavy duty scissors. Aquaphor lip balm comes in card board, but this was Neosporin lip balm. (BTW once the lip balm is used their plastic containers can't be recycled).

Same goes for all lipstick.


I hate all the plastic packaging.

Ironically, the flimsy plastic shopping bags are biodegradable.

I say this as I type on my plastic keyboard.

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #19)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 03:58 PM

25. Good points.

 

In Los Angeles, we live on the shore of the ocean. Plastic bags are a real menace here because they can flow right along with other stuff into the ocean and cause damage, lots of it once out there.

Nevertheless, some of the plastic bags are biodegradable but it takes a long time. Some are quickly biodegradable. Those I use for my compost.

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #19)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 04:22 PM

27. Corrugated plastic is polypropylene. It's Plastic No. 5.

Strip the printed sheet off the coroplast. The printed plastic is Resin Code 3 (PVC) and the coroplast is Resin Code 5.

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #27)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 04:34 PM

29. The printing is embedded - no sheet

Was told the dyes were toxic

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:39 PM

3. Biodegradable plastic made from hemp could have solved this problem decades ago.

Big oil is responsible for solutions not being utilized.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:47 PM

5. I bought metal straws at Amazon and I ask for NO straw if I go through a drive though window

I also have little Fabric bags for fruits and vegetables that I got from the World Wildlife Foundation for a donation. I'm sure you can buy them online.

I have a bunch of reusable bags from different charitable organizations now. I love them!


Edit: The straws I got came with their own fabric case so I just keep them in my car and bring them in to wash when I use one. I always reuse a cup several times also.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #5)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:53 PM

8. You can get straw brushes too for cleaning them.

I’m going to convert even though Seattle just banned them. The compostable ones aren’t bad but they do get a tad mooshy.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #5)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:59 PM

14. I just bought metal straws on Amazon

I love them (so far). They came in a fabric pouch and with a pipe cleaner type cleaning brush.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:49 PM

6. Thank you! (Prepare for hysterical rant.)

You have nailed it.
Yesterday realized that at conventional corner grocery store only the organic bananas are wrapped in plastic bags. So I chose between pesticides that are dangerous to the banana handlers or the plastic that is a participant in the overall doom of our planet. This time I chose for the banana handlers, but every time I look at that bunch of bananas on the counter I wish I could figure out an effective way to respond. I know the usual--contact Dole, push it out all over social media, etc. etc. but I really feel helpless against this huge machine of destruction. Then I think, "Why am I eating bananas anyway, Miss Eat Locally?" (Coffee and bananas not local and I'm hooked on both.)
Really. The plastic. What can we do about it?
Costco: Great to its employees. Good prices. Organic produce. Wrapped in plastic.
Grass fed beef at Whole Foods: Wrapped in plastic. For $4 more per pound, get at counter wrapped in paper that is COATED WITH PLASTIC.
Every single piece of cheap clothing I see that is made by slave or close-to-slave worker has tiny plastic bag with extra plastic buttons attached to it by a plastic thread. The clothes don't even last long enough to sew on a button, and how many people still do that? I have a collection that will eventually be landfilled by my children when I die, but am willing to bet that 99.99999999999999% of these are landfilled when they come home, along with the plastic-coated paper tags tethered by more plastic threads.
Pieces of gum: sealed in plastic. OTC pills: sealed in plastic
And yes! To get things out of the plastic that is more secure than a piece of American Tourister luggage requires a hacksaw. These are not Tylenol murders types of products! Everything is like this so it can be shipped and displayed more easily without paying people.
Late Stage Capitalism.
I seize the tiny changes, like Starbucks and the straw news this morning, fully aware that it is not adequate. But I will say that the sight of the ocean pollution seems to be reaching people in a different way.
Thanks for listening.

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Response to Lulu KC (Reply #6)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:56 PM

10. More on my banana/plastic tangent

So I did a little googling on the plastic bags. They are there to help the bananas ripen without the gas that is sprayed on non-organics. which leads me to another tangent--why are we in such a hurry? Buy the bananas and wait. It's fruit. That's what real people do. Since microwave ovens, everything is in a huge hurry. Remember the SNL skit about Federal Express and time travel--"When you need it delivered yesterday."

I came across this article. I just need to go off the bananas. Period. Don't know if I can go cold turkey, but working on it.
https://theecologist.org/2012/may/28/behind-label-how-fair-are-organic-and-fairtrade-bananas

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Response to Lulu KC (Reply #6)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:58 PM

13. +1.

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Response to Lulu KC (Reply #6)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:56 PM

22. I hate it when they wrap produce in tight plastic...it is always the organic stuff....

Last edited Mon Jul 9, 2018, 04:08 PM - Edit history (1)

Many organic fruits: (tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, peaches, mangoes etc) are encased in this stuff. Giving off gases and the plastic is giving off gases too. And the stuff is more prone to rot.....gotta get the plastic off as soon as you get home.

I have never bought any produce encased in tight plastic. It has never made sense to me.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:54 PM

9. Meanwhile, next door in Idaho:

In 2016, the legislature passed a bill which was signed into law specifying that local governments, and local voters, can have no say over containers, including plastic water bottles and bags and restaurant carry-out containers – even though the state doesn’t regulate those.

Nothing like the "local control is best" or "invisible hand of the marketplace" gang ensuring that local control cannot happen. Apparently, this bill was written because a manufacturer of plastic stuff was getting worried after a few local communities started making noises about regulating plastic shit.

Big bidness, small bidness, it doesn't matter. If it makes money, our red-state GOP loves preventing regulation despite the negative effects on the public or environment.

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Response to yonder (Reply #9)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:57 PM

11. My head is exploding n/t

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Response to yonder (Reply #9)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:58 PM

23. Texas has a similar law

Passed in 2015.

The state supreme court overturned Laredo's bag ban. So, all bag bans were overturned.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 12:58 PM

12. People want speedy convenience, but there's a lot of built in behaviors

we do because we might be lazy, don't know better, or never thought of any alternatives. Supermarkets have the same needs, they want customers to bring in their own carryout shopping bags, but they still provide the individual plastic bags to speed through the checkout line.

While the grocery store depends on plastic, if I go to the farmers market I need to bring my own bags, or the seller might wrap small items a twisted cone of newspaper. The meat counter at my supermarket wraps my selection in butcher paper which I will transfer to a proper storage container at home. I can understand why busy, tired people go for the convenience.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:10 PM

15. I was raided BEFORE plastic-------everything was paper,cellophane,wood,metal, and my

favorite to this day,wax paper----I love the stuff.



.

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Response to virgogal (Reply #15)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:47 PM

21. Sorry that you were raided....

(Damn autocorrect......)

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #21)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 04:22 PM

28. Sigh---I even thought that I checked it out.

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:12 PM

16. we have comingled recycle....from what i understand...it is just dumped in a landfil not because

china who used to separate and recycle it no longer does?

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Response to dembotoz (Reply #16)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 05:15 PM

31. Not Here

WM has a $400 million single source separate & distribute system
I took a tour of the facility

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:25 PM

18. We have re-usable bags that are twenty years old

A couple I've had to restitch seams, a few my husband cut new bottom liners out of plastic sheets being discarded from his workplace.

For those who use plastic bags for your produce, you can easily make produce bags from old tee shirts:

Version with sewn seams: https://inhabitat.com/ecouterre/recycle-an-old-t-shirt-into-a-produce-grocery-bag-diy-tutorial/

No sew version: https://www.mommypotamus.com/no-sew-t-shirt-tote-bag-tutorial/

ETA: Video for no sew version:



Power cut out momentarily so I posted sooner than I planned.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #18)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 04:02 PM

26. Thanks. Terrific idea.

 

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Response to Sophia4 (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 01:46 PM

20. It drives me nuts when I see people put their bananas in a plastic sack.

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