If the one word of investment advice 50 years ago was “plastics,” it has led us to the two words of caution today: bad habits. Plastics—in particular, single-use plastics—have become a habit of convenience and a worldwide problem. Problems of ocean and land pollution as well as the greenhouse gases of production and transportation are impacting our plants, wildlife and humans.
Plastics recycling, which we can thankfully still do in Blaine County, is not the solution. After 30 years of recycling education and promotion, only 13 percent of U.S. plastics actually get recycled. The remaining plastics end up in our landfills and our natural environment.
And for humans, a 2019 study found that the average American is eating, drinking and breathing in around 2,000 microplastics each week—about the weight of a credit card. Every week! It’s in our meat, shellfish, salt, beer and, of course, water. If you drink bottled water, rather than water from the tap, you could be taking in an additional 90,000 microplastic particles every year.
The bad habits of plastic convenience we’ve developed over the last 50 years have brought us plastic single-serving yogurt and juice bottles, plastic packaged lunches, plastic dishes, cups, straws, and flatware and shrink-wrapped vegetables, fruit, lettuce and meats. While all of the food these containers carry will disappear in a short while, the plastic will last for hundreds of years—and we already have 50 years of our past plastics piled up.
July has been designated Plastic Free Month. It’s the perfect time to rethink one or more of our bad plastic habits. Of course, recycle plastics No. 1-5 but, more importantly, avoid buying products that use plastic packaging. Carry reusable bags, water bottles and coffee mugs and refuse unnecessary plastic packaging and trinkets whenever possible.
Buncy Jeffrey, Ketchum