#PlasticFreeJuly and Beyond
by Rona Berg, GSN Board of Directors
Not too long ago, everyone was talking about how important it is to recycle plastic. That led to a burst of innovation, from jeans made with recycled plastic bottles to swimsuits made from discarded fishing nets. Companies like Everlane, Adidas, Stella McCartney and, of course, the trailblazer, Patagonia, incorporated recycled plastic in their next season’s designs.
In Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Paul Hawken writes that “Globally we produce 310 million tons of plastic each year. That is 83 pounds per person, and plastic production is expected to quadruple by 2050.” The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a startling statistic: If we don’t do something, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and that seems likely to happen even sooner.
The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in the northwest Hawaiian Islands is now one of the world’s biggest trash dumps. It’s estimated that 20 tons of plastic trash end up there every year. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling gyre of discarded plastic in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and California, contains more than 87,000 tons of plastic: bottles, children’s toys, cosmetic packaging, storage bins, fishing nets and more. It’s a floating-plastic graveyard–and it’s growing.
In fact, every piece of plastic ever created on this planet (since the 19th century!) is still here. There is a massive amount in our waterways and oceans, and inside animals that are found in some of the most remote parts of the planet. (Inside humans, too.) And that’s why, in addition to recycling (and upcycling) what we have, we need to figure out ways not to use more. Here are a few suggestions:
Meet the Author
Rona Berg, GSN Board of Directors