The amount of plastic trash everywhere we go in recent years has been a blight on the landscape and a sad statement about the intelligence of a species which fouls its own nest. Our oceans and rivers have become clogged with a volume of plastic that is killing the sea life, destroying the environment and threatening our very survival as human beings. I remember years ago being impressed that in Costa Rica, soda was sold only in glass bottles with refundable deposits. A couple of years later, for reasons unexplainable, sodas suddenly appeared in plastic containers. A year after that, there were empty plastic bottles everywhere I walked. And where I live now, in Peru, it is difficult to buy anything without receiving another plastic bag, not to mention the rest of the throw away packaging. At the local market, a small portion of fresh chopped vegetables in sold encased in a tightly tied little plastic bag. But when purchased, the vendor insists on placing the purchase into another plastic bag, one with handles on it (you know, the kind that wraps around the bodies of fish, killing them). On a normal shopping trip to the market if 8 articles are purchased, it will be difficult to come home with less than 8 or 10 plastic bags.
It’s going to take a major cultural shift, along with some innovative technology, to change the direction of this destruction.
There are alternatives already in existence. Indonesia, which is becoming buried in plastic waste, has developed technology to produce bags made of yucca, rather than plastic. At a cost of half a cent (twice the cost of plastic), it’s hard to believe that the cost factor could keep us from making the change to rid ourselves of the plastic scourge. They convert to compost in under 100 days, as compared to 100 years for plastic. The developer of the product is hoping to connect with other experts who can figure out how to bring the cost down. Hopefully the interest and investment sources will be found to spread this new idea worldwide.
And it has recently been reported that Peru has plans to reduce the amount of plastic being used. So there is hope.