A recent article by Travel Weekly made me ponder plastic. Richard Turen’s article titled “Pondering Plastic and Tourism” shared some disturbing statistics about plastic as a global epidemic, and as a passionate nature lover and world traveler, I am intent on sharing it in the hopes that we are touched with a spirit of change that may help to make a difference. Check out the brilliant “plastic dumpster” above, seen on many beaches and serving as a fun and useful clean-up station.
The disturbing fact is that we have an estimated 150 MILLION TONS of plastic in our oceans, and it’s growing every day. About 80% was deliberately dumped into the ocean or rivers. Experts in the cruise industry know that a lot of the plastic found in the “Great Pacific Garbage patch” comes from Southeast Asia. And yet the US continues to send its plastic waste to countries like Vietnam for recycling!
China has stopped accepting our plastic, but that has meant much of it ends up on the shores of pristine villages in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The good news is that the United Nations met recently to agree on a treaty that severely restricts shipments of plastic waste to other countries. Sadly, the attendees from the US argued AGAINST this change!
You probably know that the average plastic bag “is discarded 12 minutes after leaving a store”. It then takes between 10 and 1,000 years to decompose.
As a traveler, you need to know that some countries have now banned the use of lightweight plastic bags, and you will need to leave those on the aircraft or risk heavy fines or delays entering the country. Nearly 40 countries are on the current list, with more soon to follow. Among them are Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, the Seychelles, Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In late 2018, President Trump “signed a bill designed to try to clean up our oceans. The Save Our Seas Act had the unanimous support of Congress.”
What can we do? it’s easy. I have already started at home by making sure I always have cloth shopping bags in my car. I use reusable and washable glass containers for leftovers at home. I buy as much fresh food as possible at the grocery store in order to eliminate my food touching plastic as well as reducing the waste that will go into the landfills. I recycle what my Rumpke monthly service allows. I support shopping locally to avoid the massive waste created by millions of lazy Amazon customers who continue to throw their shipment packaging into the garbage can.
What can you do? Together we can make a difference!