The main mission of the zero waste lifestyle is to limit the amount of plastic in the world. Plastic is an oil compound that became popular in the 1950’s with action figures, dolls, TV dinners, and a variety of other items that are labelled as both disposable and non-disposable. However, is there anything that is non-disposable about plastic? At some point our favorite plastic items will end up breaking or falling apart. Instead of trying to fix the item, we throw it in the garbage. Currently, in the United States only 9% of the plastic is recycled.
Over the years, the topic of plastic has continued to gained more popularity within the media and activist community. Last year, the Huff Post published an article by Dana Ellis Hunners, an adjunct professor at USLA Fielding-School of Public Health, titled Plastic: It’s What’s For Dinner, where she explains that according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 30 percept of all fish have plastic in them. This means that when you order fish from a restaurant or the grocery store, there is a possibility that you could be eating plastic. If that doesn’t gross you out, I don’t know what will.
At the beginning of August, Tesco, a popular UK grocery chain, made a statement explaining that they will be banning all plastic bags and providing reusable option that would cost customers an extra 10p or (50 cents in US). Considering that most reusable bags usually cost a couple of dollars, getting a reusable bag for 50 cents is a steal. Back in 2015, Tesco started charging their customers 5p for plastic bags. By banning plastic bags all together, they are reducing their environmental impact even more and making it easier for EVERYONE to stop using plastic bags. Why can’t we do this in the United States?
When I walk into my local grocery store that isn’t Trader Joes and Whole Foods, I see people walk out with at least 10 plastic bags. Sometimes they have a bag for each item that they purchased. This seems so unnecessary when we could be offering reusable bags. On August 14th 2017, Dana Ellis Hunnes wrote another article titled, Plastic Plastic Literally Everywhere. In this post she explains how 8% of the world’s oil goes to making plastic products. That may not seem like a lot of oil, but when you think about the amount of human rights, environmental, and cultural issues that have revolved around oil, it seems as if we should be limiting our use of oil as much as we can.
Everyone can make difference by using mesh bags for produce and reusable bags for their groceries. However, until the grocery stores stop stocking disposable plastic bags, people will continue to use them. Hunnes has also created a petition, that everyone is welcomed to sign and bring up to their elected officials to ban plastic goods. It may seem that you can’t make a difference, especially in the current state of our political climate and government. However, you can make a difference because the more you talk to your local grocery stores and state officials, the more people you will inspire to do the same. I hope this petition inspires more companies to go plastic free! For now, take a look at your local food stores and explore your package free options!