Shocking new video taken by a diver off the tourist island of Bali shows an abundance of plastic waste in the water, in the form of bags, bottles, and buckets. pic.twitter.com/DSIIwtTINH
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 7, 2018
We banned plastic bags in Seattle—after a long, protracted fight that saw defenders of plastic bags claim that reusable canvas bags would kill us all in a last-ditch effort to stop the ban—but it's time to move on to all the other unnecessary plastic crap, particularly unnecessary plastic packaging that winds up in the oceans. The Guardian:
Microplastics have been found in some of the most remote and uncharted regions of the oceans raising more concerns over the global scale of plastic pollution. Samples taken from the middle of the South Indian Ocean—at latitude 45.5 degrees south—show microplastic particles detected at relatively high volumes. Sören Gutekunst, from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, who analysed the samples, said the data showed 42 particles per cubic metre, which was surprising given the remoteness of the area.... More than 8m tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year. Recent research has shown that billions of pieces of plastic are snagged on coral reefs, sending disease rates soaring.
They're just starting to do something about it in the Netherlands:
Shoppers in the Netherlands will get the chance to visit Europe’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle on Wednesday in what campaigners claim is a turning point in the war on plastic pollution. The store in Amsterdam will open its doors at 11am when shoppers will be able to choose from more than 700 plastic-free products, all available in one aisle. The move comes amid growing global concern about the damage plastic waste is having on oceans, habitats and food chains. Scientists warn plastic pollution is now so widespread it risks permanent contamination of the natural world.... Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, the group behind the campaign, said the opening represented “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution. For decades shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink. A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.”
The New York Times ran an opinion piece calling for a ban on plastic bags—and, hey, Seattle got a shoutout:
The average American throws away about 10 single-use plastic bags per week, but New Yorkers use twice the national average. Some 23 billion are used across the state each year — more than enough, when tied together, to stretch to the moon and back 13 times. In the short trip from store to home the utility of these bags is spent, but the bags themselves can take millions of times longer to break down in landfill. Yes, you are correct. This is crazy and entirely unnecessary....
In the United States, California is the only state to have imposed a comprehensive solution to the plastic bag problem, banning single-use plastic bags in stores in 2014, an action then endorsed by voters in a statewide referendum in 2016. Dozens of municipalities have banned plastic bags or imposed fees to discourage their use, including Austin, Tex.; Chicago; and Seattle. New York State and Massachusetts may well find themselves on the front lines of the plastic bag war this year.
I was just in New York City and I can attest to the insane overuse of plastic bags there. (I bought a single banana in a bodega in Chelsea and they put it in a plastic bag before I could object.) Joseph Curtin's opinion piece calls for banning plastic bags—which is an obvious and easy step—but it doesn't stop there...
The cultural impact can be game changing. As was the case with smoking indoors, the use of plastic bags becomes less socially acceptable over time once the government moves to restrict them. Reusable bags become the norm quicker than one might imagine, and shoppers seamlessly adapt their daily routines to the new reality. Action aimed at plastic bags can pave the way for further measures to address free coffee cups, lids, stirrers, cutlery, straws and takeout packaging.
Seattle banned single-use plastic bags in 2011—three years before California acted. We were one of the first cities to ban 'em and we don't miss 'em and no one, so far as I'm aware, has died of a bacterial infection traced back to a reusable canvas bag. Seattle should be at the vanguard of a new movement to ban plastic cups, lid, straws, unnecessary plastic packaging, etc.