The amount of non-biodegradable plastics in our environment is overwhelming! Plastic litter finds its way into our rivers, our lakes, and out to the ocean. It is an ongoing catastrophe! Birds, small animals, and all manner of marine life are repeatedly ensnared in plastic bags, wires, fishing line, bottles, and other trash. Many animals and birds eat the plastic particles – a deathtrap to wildlife. Some toxic plastics do not kill outright, but accumulate inside of the bodies of smaller animals which are eaten by larger animals – right up the food chain to us.
Global plastic production has grown rapidly, and is currently producing more than 400 million tons per year. It is estimated that 2 to 5% of all plastic winds up in the ocean, where it breaks down into tiny particles. Ocean microplastics are entering the drinking water, the food chain, our air, and our bodies.
We need to enact and support legislation to reduce the amount of single-use plastics. We also need an educated citizenry to reduce the amount of these products that we buy, and so casually discard. All of us need to encourage each other to use re-usable bags, refuse plastic straws and styrofoam takeout containers, and to work together to clean up litter in our neighborhoods.
As a county and a state, small businesses that recycle should be encouraged to start here or to move here. For many who do their best to recycle their plastics at local collection centers, and who take their single-use shopping bags to the stores that collect them – much of the plastic is never recycled. The United States used to export tons of discarded plastics to China for recycling, but now they are not accepting it. We need to encourage plastic recycling businesses in our own country, state, and county. Small recycling industries could bring much needed jobs to the area and manufacture items such as plant pots, benches, and outdoor furniture made from our discarded plastics.