Our office has plastic cups because washing up after ourselves must be too hard. I recently went to a dinner eaten from plastic plates, where afterwards all traces of our meal were swept into a plastic garbage bag. At a recent function, I reluctantly ate individually plastic wrapped biscuits and sweetened my tea with paper wrapped sugar. These things are easier, apparently.
But the thing is, there’s no such thing as waste disposal. And that’s why using plastic is never truly convenient, it’s not easy in anything but the most short-sighted ways.
Sure, there’s waste relocation. But there’s nowhere to actually dispose of it. Landfill just puts it out of sight, out of mind. In the ocean, plastic fragments gather in massive deadly conglomerations and plastic refuse strangles, chokes and tortures animals. In our homes, discarded plastic things clutter up storerooms and spare rooms. In our streets, plastics languish as trash.
There is recycling, a kind of panacea for environmental un-ease. I’m all for recycling as long as we don’t delude ourselves that it cancels out the perils of over-consumption. It still takes materials, fossil fuels, and transportation to recycle. While it’s better than landfill or ocean pollution, it’s a very long way from best.
Our short-term convenience – less washing up thanks to plastic plates and cups, pristine lipstick thanks to a plastic straw, neat and tidy food packaging thanks to plastic wrap and packages – comes at an inestimable price. A price that I’d have a whole lot of trouble justifying if someone asked why.
So my new mantra – any time I think to buy something that’s excessively wrapped, or discard something rather than re-use it – is that there’s no such thing as waste disposal. Even if it’s neatly trucked away from my house, the plastic I throw away will be forever on our planet…and that’s not easy at all.
You can read more at: http://www.plasticoceans.net/