You are planning to go on a picnic. You spot your grandparents straw picnic basket and think how much fun it would be to use it. You dust it off and open it up. Inside you see plates, cups, utensils, and food storage containers. Realization hits; you will need to bring everything home, wash each item by hand since nothing is dishwasher safe, and then place the items back in the basket. Grandma’s picnic basket is returned to its spot on the shelf and you get out the plastic cooler and plastic plates, cups, food containers, and utensils.
Did you know plastic as we know it today, did not exist until 1907 when the first synthetic plastic was invented. Because of the way plastics are manufactured, they cannot be truly recycled. You think you are doing a good thing when you toss your plastic items into the “recycle trash,” and technically you are because every little bit helps, but only about 9 percent is actually recycled. Most plastic waste ends up in landfills where it can take thousands of years to decompose. The USA National Park Service estimates that more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and thrown away each day in the United States. That adds up to 175 billion plastic straws each year. Thus, the need to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. All over the globe countries are becoming aware of this increasing environmental problem.
Plastic bags, straws, utensils, cups and plates make life easier for many of us. But, if not disposed of correctly, they can cause injury to animal life as well as our environment. For example, have you ever dropped a plastic straw into a body of water where sea turtles live? That straw might have ended up stuck in the nose of a poor sea turtle that cannot defend itself against these strange plastic objects that are invading its habitat.
Countries, large and small, are implementing changes to protect the environment from the harmful effects of single-use plastic items like bottles, cutlery, cups, carry out containers, and drinking straws. The UK and Europe are currently considering proposals to ban the use of various plastic products. India’s goal is by 2022 all single-use plastic will be banned.
Many countries have already implemented these bans. Rwanda is one of the leaders in realizing the harm plastic throw-away products cause. In 2008 the country banned plastic bags. In 2016 Morocco completely banned the production, sale, and import of plastic bags. England’s Queen Elizabeth currently does not allow plastic straws or bottles on the royal estates. In the United States, California and Hawaii have taken action on banning the use of various plastic products. They are the environment conscious leaders in the 50 states that make up the United States of America.
Now that you know the facts on how harmful one-time use plastic items can be, maybe you will rethink using grandma’s picnic basket and have fun taking a step back in time.