The women cut bags into strips and roll them
into spools of plastic thread. Before long, they teach
themselves how to crochet with this thread.
from: One Plastic Bag:
Isatow Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
written by Miranda Paul
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
2015, Millbrook Press
My newspaper has a factoid block on the inside of page 1A. Last Monday the heading read 9B+ tons. It went on to say
The amount of plastic the global plastic industry has made since 1950. (That’s my lifetime!)
Our society, indeed the whole world, I think, is dependent on plastic. From its uses in medical procedures and instruments, to bags of frozen fruits and vegetables and, when we don’t eat it fast enough, the bags we wrap our garbage in. And now, 3-D printing. We can’t seem to find a bad use for the stuff.
I use the bag my newspaper comes in to hold the scooped contents of my litterboxes. Even the boxes (all three of them) are plastic. Oh! I’ve even been known to line my plastic trash can with a plastic bag, for convenience.
Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel, was released this past Friday. It doesn’t appear to be coming to my home town. If I want to see it, I’ll need use gas (my little Prius sips, not guzzles, but still) and travel to a nearby big city.
At the risk of sounding like a highfalutin’ alarmist, I’m sharing some current, inconvenient facts about plastic recycling I found here: https://www.thebalance.com/plastic-recycling-facts-and-figures-2877886
- In 2009, plastic overtook paper and paperboard to become the number one material in the U. S. waste stream.
- In 2010, Guinness listed plastic as the world’s “most ubiquitous consumer item.”
- It takes up to 500 years to decompose plastic items in landfills.
- Slightly over ¼ of plastic bottles are recycled. The other ¾ end up in landfills, Or more likely, wherever the person drinking finished drinking whatever was being drunk, the side of the road, your front lawn, or the parking lot outside the grocery store becomes the receptacle for the new trash.
- One out of every ten items picked up in an International Coastal Cleanup in 2009 was a plastic bag.
- The plastic waste that is thrown away into seas every year can kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures.
- Researchers believe the amount of ocean plastic will be 10 times greater than the amount of fish by 2020. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
- During the Ocean Conservancy’s 2013 Coastal Cleanup event in September and October, more than 1 million plastic bags were picked up from coasts and waterways around the world.
- Over 1,600 business organizations in the U.S. are involved in recycling post-consumer plastic items.
- According to American Chemistry Council, currently, more than 80 percent Americans have access to different plastic recycling programs.
So for better or worse, we have lots of plastic. Useful, convenient, cheap, no doubt. But, maybe enough is enough. Re-purposing, recycling, replacing with re-usables will make a difference.
Plastic is the most produced and least recycled man-made material on our Earth. It is crucial to pay attention to that, take action, and find substitutes for plastic whenever we can.
You might even want one of those Gambian plastic bag purses. Go here: http://gambiahelp.org/get-involved/shop/
If you got all the way to the bottom of this post—thanks!