An assortment of plastic products goes into the making of waste and pollution to our oceans and beaches, so I was excited when I heard that Starbucks was getting rid of plastic straws. But I completely overlooked how they were replacing the straws. Sure, no more sea turtles will get a straw lodged in their noses and painfully pulled out by a helpful sea captain, but the plastic buildup will still progressively increase, maybe at a faster rate than before.
As Steve Toloken puts in his July 30 Viewpoint ("Straw bans, bottle bills help push toward a reduction in consumption") the plastic industry is winning because they are an inexpensive convenience. It is time to push back.
PET bottles are recycled only 28 percent of the time in America. Nonreusable water bottles fill beaches every summer and streets every winter. Other countries have found ways to reduce their footprint, including Europe, which recycles 59 percent of its bottles and converts them into new plastic materials. Oregon is finding a way to mend the lack of recycling by adding a refundable deposit on recyclable bottles, so once returned, the individual will receive payment to ensure higher rates of recycling.
Another one-use item, seen in trees and under tires, is plastic grocery bags. Buying a reusable bag is a cheap way to cut plastic litter. So many plastics end up in our landfills, but many do not get properly disposed of and end up being eaten by birds, squirrels and other creatures in suburban neighborhoods.
There is not one specific group concerned with plastic and the issues posed from its wastefulness. All sides of the political spectrum are concerned with the fast-growing industry; it's not being looked at from "radical tree huggers" or politicians with an agenda, but from people around the country looking to save the environment. A worldwide effort from everyone shows that this is a real problem and not fake science.
There are so many things the people of the world can do to reduce their plastic waste. Stop using single-use plastics like bottles, straws and bags or find ways to recycle those single-use plastics into multiple-use plastics. Little steps from each person will make a dent in plastic consumption and waste throughout the world. I switched my toothbrush to a biodegradable bamboo-brush, my water bottle to a metal bottle, and I now carry a straw everywhere with me.
It is not just up to the consumers to protest buying cases of water bottles or to say no to a straw from the barista. Companies are responsible for the packaging they use. Recently, Snapple moved from their amazing, recyclable glass bottles to a new plastic packaging. There is still hope to reduce the amount of waste the world produces.
Harlae Weber is a low-waste enthusiast who lives in New Jersey.