You may have noticed my plastic posts lately … I’ve been focused on this issue for the last few months and scoured the web for data and information about it … plastic oceans, micro plastics, and the fact that China is no longer our planet’s global plastic dumping ground. China recently stopped accepting plastic in June of last year. They had been consuming 45% of the world’s plastic for 25 years … Its been just over 6 months now … and the issue is percolating … “Houston, We Have a Problem!” This was not the actual wording used by John Swigert of Apollo 13. His actual words were “Okay Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
That sentence is more akin to the situation we have with plastics. As in Apollo 13, the problem happened during take off. It was not discovered until after the fact, when plastic pollution started showing up on our lands and the beaches and oh there is a plastic island in the Pacific and now … China’s decision to ban imports last year is the linchpin in the recycling wheel. We are starting to feel the issue. We being our recycling centers and counties who used to send plastic to China.
Here is an excellent article describing the geography of plastic recycling and also the source of my featured image.
For those of us who had been recycling, it appears to be business as usual, but we are mistaken. The final results of our recycling efforts are unknown and precarious at best. There are odds that suggest, when we recycle plastic at our local redemption centers or in our trash pickup, we are ultimately filling the ocean with more plastic. Yes, this is a clear and present possibility.
So what is the solution now, today that China has stopped accepting our plastics?
We need to stop buying plastics. This is nearly impossible in our society. So when we do buy plastics, we need to make sure they don’t end up in the ocean, which means we must keep them in our own closets, our cellars, our garages. Yes, this will happen, I am sure of it.
If we don’t want to have our own personal dump where we live, then we should make sure the plastic gets into the community landfill, right? At least the plastics would not go into the oceans and ultimately our food supply.
Plastics in landfills, do leach over time and eventually contaminant our water systems.
Which is worse, pollute the oceans or pollute our land?
“Okay Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
So where do we go from here?
I’m thinking, that for the moment, if we must buy plastic, we should keep it where we live, under our beds.
As a final note, this link gives us some raw numbers of how much plastic we have made and where it is today.