Friday, September 27, 2017
Do you recycle plastic? It is such an easy thing to do, yet as Americans we seem particularly unwilling to do it.
Today Americans discard about 33.6 million tons of plastic each year, but only 6.5 percent of it is recycled and 7.7 percent is combusted in waste-to-energy facilities, which create electricity or heat from garbage.
The rest ends up, well, the rest ends up where we least want it; where we go for food, where we go for water, and where we go to recreate.
Recently a marine photographer captured some truly heartbreaking images of the damage being done to the planet's oceans with a shocking "sea of plastic and styrofoam" near a tranquil Caribbean island.
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Caroline Power, who specialises in underwater photography, has dedicated her career to highlighting the damage plastic waste is doing to our oceans.
She said witnessing the plastic blanket of forks, bottles and rubbish between the islands Roatan and Cayos Cochinos, off the coast of Honduras, was "devastating".
She said they passed through floating garbage for "nearly five miles", adding: "Everywhere we looked, plastic bags of all shapes and sizes: chip bags, ziplocks, grocery, trash, snack bags, other packaging. Some were whole and the rest were just pieces. Sadly, many turtles, fish, whales, and seabirds will mistake those bits of plastic for food.
"We then reached an area about two miles wide that had multiple trash lines that stretched from horizon to horizon.
"There was also a seemingly infinite number of plastic forks, spoons, drink bottles, and plates. There were broken soccer balls, toothbrushes, a tv, and so many shoes and flip flops."
You can find the images online with a quick search. The impact is visceral. And the solution is so easy.
Recycling only 6.5 percent of discarded plastic is an embarrassment. All you have to do is imagine yourself eating that plastic bag or water bottle before you throw it in the trash, and your motivation will change. Because with the way our environment is suffused with plastic, chances are you will be eating it.