I recently posted some random thoughts about our environment, about the state of the world, and particularly related to the enormous amount of plastic waste ending up in the oceans (it’s really enough to account for some sea level rise). I was doing a bunch of farm work the other day, and during a break, drinking a much needed cool drink my GF provided, I noticed the plastic bottle had a five cent deposit (if you were in Maine), which got me thinking, “Why doesn’t my state do this?”
As a kids, we used to collect glass soda bottles and turn them in for the deposit. That’s how I remember making my first pocket money. My brother and I would pick bottles up from the side of the road, and cash them in at the convenience store. I think they were worth like a nickle a bottle even back then. Half a dozen bottles and we were on our way to the candy isle! The point is, as a state, as a country, as a global community, we have gotten away from that idea of reusing and recycling. We throw away plastic. It’s cheap. We’ll make more. No need for the whole deposit thing any more. Well the cheap and “we’ll make more” is catching up to us. Globally now.
Recent news around my state and the nation and the world, now includes gross amounts of plastic waste being discarded, ending up in the oceans, killing marine life. Causing problems, crazy problems everywhere. Go to any beach anywhere, walk along the shore 100 meters, and tell me there is no plastic trash washing up. Municipalities in my state struggle with maintaining recycling programs, communities are trying to ban plastic straws and shopping bags, and inexplicably, legislators are trying to outlaw those same plastic bans. We have a problem.
I will not argue plastics are a boon to both safety and convenience. Plastic saves tons of energy to transport due to their lower weight. Without a doubt, plastic containers have a lot of advantages. The problem is, we are making far more plastic than we are recycling. If you want to talk about something which really can end the world in 12 years, I will argue, drowning and choking to death on waste plastic is it.
Voluntary plastic recycling is great, but hit and miss and does not seem well supported by communities as a whole across the nation. Government curbside recycling often struggles to break even, often giving the impression these programs are only in place to check-off the “we recycle” box and to keep a lid on the environmentalists. I suspect the prime reason there is so much plastic waste is because it generally has no intrinsic value.
I really don’t think there is an easy fix. As a consumer we’re encouraged to “Pitch it in.” We’re doing the right thing by properly disposing of our waste, right? Maybe not any more. As a consumer, we have no skin in the game. But my thought is, a state “bottle bill” could help change this. By placing a value on these types of containers, people would be incentivized to return plastic bottles and containers. In my country, there are only ten state (out of fifty) which have some form of a container deposit legislation. These states with such laws, have less litter and more recycling. They are capturing the plastic before it enters the waste stream and becomes a problem. It’s an idea we can build on.
Fight Litter. Save the world. Ask your legislator for a bottle bill.
Thoughts and comments, Please!