Your editorial “Cleaning up our act” struck a chord with me. It is vital to remember a fourth “Environmental R” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Refuse.
There is more to single-use plastics than plastic bags, straws and bottles. Think about cups, cutlery, dishes and grocery packaging. Technically recyclable, “PEET” plastics (class 1) make up 96 per cent of all plastic containers in the U.S., yet only 25 per cent are recycled. Recycling rates are typically a little higher in Canada, but still too much plastic ends up in landfills – either here or in some faraway Third World nation. Much of this plastic garbage could be eliminated by changing packaging methods.
Fruit, veggies and even bread products used to be sold in cardboard boxes or paper bags, rather than in plastic “clamshells”. One major grocery chain now offers reusable fabric bags for purchase, offering more items in bulk, to encourage using fabric bags instead of plastic packaging. Consumers should advocate grocery stores to reduce plastic packaging of all sorts.
Over-packaging, in general, is a major issue in our battle for environmental stewardship. It is past time for consumers to recall that fourth environmental “R” – refuse! Refuse to accept over-packaging, refuse to accept unnecessary plastic in any form, and refuse to become a part of over-consumption. If we raise our voices to government, marketers and producers, and if government does the same, we could certainly do a great deal towards the elimination of plastic garbage.
The scientific community is making advances towards a natural method of biodegrading plastic (i.e. Record article Valley resident invents eco-friendly glow stick) but wide-scale use of such microbes is still years away. Don’t leave it all in the hands of experts! We consumers should do what we can to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.