The most important thing about the plastic problem is that people are starting to pay attention and take action. The country of Kenya joined a growing list of nations that have banned plastic bags. Those that break the rule get fined or sent to jail! France said it would ban plastic plates and cups by 2020. Bans on plastic microbeads in cosmetics take effect this year in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and four other countries. The industry is phasing them out.
Corporations are responding, too. Coca‑Cola also produces bottled water. It’s announced a new goal. It hopes to “collect and recycle the equivalent of ” 100 percent of its packaging by 2030. Other corporations, such as PepsiCo, Amcor, and Unilever have pledged to convert to 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025.
These bales of plastic were collected by Italian fishermen. They are on their way to be recycled.
System 001, created by Boyan Slat, is a floating cleanup system designed to collect ocean plastic.
Individuals are making a difference, too. Ellen MacArthur, a British yachtswoman, has created a special company. It’s based on the idea of a “circular economy.” All materials, including plastics, are designed to be reused or recycled, not dumped.
Boyan Slat, 24, from the Netherlands, is charging ahead with his vow to clean up the largest garbage patch in the North Pacific. His organization has raised more than $30 million. They are working to build an ocean‑sweeping system to collect trash.
Solutions can be found. People can make a difference. You can help, too.
San Francisco’s largest recycling plant handles up to 600 tons of materials a day.
Ten Things You Can Do
Give up plastic bags.
Take your own reusable bags to the store. A trillion plastic shopping bags are used worldwide every year.
Skip plastic straws.
Americans toss 500 million plastic straws every day, or about 1.5 per person.
Pass up plastic bottles.
Invest in a refillablewater bottle. Around the world, nearly a million disposable plastic bottles are sold every minute.
Avoid plastic packaging.
Buy bar soap instead of liquid. Buy in bulk. Avoid produce covered in plastic. And while you’re at it, give up plastic plates and cups.
Recycle what you can.
Globally, 18 percent of all plastic is recycled. Europe manages 30 percent, China 25 percent, and the United States only nine percent.
Snack on fruit.
Instead of snack packs that have extra packaging, pack an apple, banana, or orange.
Use a better bag.
Pack sandwiches and snacks in reusable containers or cloth sacks instead of plastic bags.
Choose a cone.
Go without plastic spoons and cups and have your ice cream in a cone.
Pick up what you can.
Grab an adult and pick up trash near a local river. Be careful: Never pick up anything that looks sharp or dangerous.