Science, Tech

Rethinking the Battle on Plastic

If there is one thing history can prove, it is that trends come and go. Sometimes they come back for an encore, but most often they are propelled to attention by only a few voices. The many take up the call and wear the hard work of the trend’s makers, yet never actually contribute to the evolution of such trends.

A current trend, perhaps status quo, has been watered down to three words: plastic is bad. Those words at their most basic interpretation have been taken and spread around the world. But I have to ask, is it true? With the environmental problems we are now facing, it isn’t realistic to throw all our clout against plastic and global warming alone. We need to dig a little deeper so we are aware of all the moving pieces unraveling the natural world.

Environmental Truths

Climate change: How do we know?

Plastic is not the only material affecting our environment. There are plenty of other products we are opting for that don’t necessarily improve the renewability of our resources. The paper bags we so dutifully exchange for plastic take just as long to break down in landfills. Surprised? With a few quick Google searches, more harmful teammates cropped up:

  • Industrial and household waste
  • Transportation and industrial emissions
  • Extraction and consumption of raw materials
  • Overpopulation and deforestation
  • Use of fossil fuels, pesticides, and toxic cleaning supplies
  • Genetic modification of food
  • Unsafe and wasted water

In addition to the poor biodegradation of plastics and paper products, you can begin to see how their team effort has bestowed global warming, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, and general air and water pollution on us.

Our Plastic-dependent Societies

Plastic Not-So-Fantastic: How the Versatile Material Harms the Environment and Human Health

We’ve become incredibly dependent on the production and versatility of plastic products, and while we may look at the ideal future of a world functioning with alternative items, it’s just not realistic to expect whole populations and economies (with the traditional use of plastic ingrained into their daily dealings) to upset their schedules, their budgets, their progress for a goal that feels so far away.

We can hope that people and large corporations will readily swap out their current habits for the friendly, earthy ones we want, but we must plan for them to do what’s easiest.

With small steps, there has been a great start to making people aware of the destruction harmful items can wreak on the environment. There have even been new government initiatives and innovative companies like BioLogiQ seeking to turn the tide. But what else can we do?

Changing our Perceptual Mindset

How People Make Only a Jar of Trash a Year

Rather than banning the use of any one product, we need to become well informed about the various ways the environment is beat upon, then make positive changes.

Exchange a process for one that is similar but better. Hybridize a current item with something that will decrease harm. Innovate and invent new things that in time can replace those that are transitional. Remind people that we are not only affecting our environment but our environment affects us.

These harmful toxins make their way back into our bodies. We breathe in smoggy air, we drink contaminated water, we eat foods that take in the depleted resources around them–we can’t forego the detrimental effects of what we have instigated. And the circumstances are not identical in each geographical location.

A Pollution Solutions article stated simply, “Rather than attempting to find a cure-all answer to a problem that is diverse and distinct in each varying region of the world, we should attempt to cultivate various solutions.” Each person needs to get involved in their community efforts and be informed about the products and processes unique to their environmental situation. Only then can we truly understand the environmental orchestration we should put into effect.

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