July 18, 2018 Community news from the prairie to the lakes  
Home News Sports Obituaries Opinion Classifieds
  Plastics: Social pressure making impact on use

The problems associated with single-use plastics — things such as straws, plastic bags and one-use food containers — is more apparent to more people all the time.

One of the biggest problems is with the amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans, harming and killing sea animals, birds and coral reefs.

We produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.

While some cities and states around the country have instituted bans on plastic bags or plastic straws, many countries have been more proactive. Britain several years ago instituted a policy where shoppers have to pay extra if they want plastic bags.

The journal Science of the Total Environment recently published an article about a scientific study showing about a 30 percent drop in plastic bags found in the ocean around Britain. The big improvement is prompting a push for similar policies to be instituted across Europe.

Critics of government interventions note that paper or cloth shopping bags or paper straws often have a larger carbon footprint to make. That’s true, but the higher carbon footprint compared to the reduction of ocean pollution and landfill space used by plastic that won’t degrade for hundreds or thousands of years is a good trade-off.

And like many things, once something is unavailable the marketplace is adept at finding replacements that become ever more economical and environmentally friendly to make. Remember the uproar from some when inefficient incandescent light bulbs were under attack? They argued there would be no alternative that would be cheap and effective. Today LED lights are getting even cheaper and lasting even longer.

While governments may increasingly be unable to act on much of anything these days, people are making more of an impact on their own.

Social pressure to move away from single-use plastics is beginning to have an effect.

Starbucks announced this week that it will ban plastic straws from all of its stores globally in less than two years. That will mean 1 billion fewer plastic straws each year. McDonalds is moving away from plastic straws, albeit at a slower pace than Starbucks.

Meanwhile, researchers and manufacturers are making quick progress in finding alternatives, including straws very similar to plastic but that are biodegradable.

Consumer pressure will continue to make improvements on more sustainable products.

Finding alternatives to single-use plastics is good for our world, which is good for everyone.



  Back to top
  Thanks for reading the Grant County Herald website. For complete news stories, opinion pieces, sports, arts and entertainment, lots of photographs, obituaries, and more, please check the full print or full online version of the Grant County Herald. To subscribe to the Herald print version, contact Penny at frontdesk@grantherald.com To subscribe to the full online version, please click here and follow instructions. Thank you—we appreciate your readership!
Classifieds Ads
Display Ads
Elbow Lake Police Department
Grant County Website
Grant County Financial Statement
Thorson Library
West Central Area Schools
Extension Office
Grant County Humane Society
City of Ashby
City of Barrett
City of Elbow Lake/Chamber
City of Herman
City of Wendell
Lakeland Mental Health Center
Central Lakes Trail
(Un)Cannery Row Blog
Sign up for the free Savvy Senior e-mail newsletter
Loading Family Features Content Widget

Website last updated:
July 17, 2018