While enjoying my daily Fresh Air fix I learned yet another reason to reduce our waste: so much of the plastic we consume is not recycled. Instead, it ends up in the oceans as a mulched down substance that resembles plankton to hungry fish. Here’s a disturbing excerpt from Terry Gross’ interview with Edward Humes, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash.
“We are eating the fish that are eating the plastic, but the scarier part is that these little bits of plastic become sponges for some potentially dangerous chemicals that are released into the marine environment, and we may be ingesting that, too,” he says. “Nobody knows for sure yet. We know that the plastic does attract these chemicals and that fish are eating it. How much it actually works its way into the food chain is still unknown but being researched now.”
Though ubiquitous and convenient, I’ve know for a while that plastic use has detrimental health and environmental ramifications. I’ve tried to reduce my plastic use for the safety of my family and the environment. But I wasn’t aware how much my neighbor’s use of plastic could put me at risk. Pop goes my little bubble of self-satisfied environmentalism. Humes’ research presents one more reason to avoid fish. Yet, the answer is not to simply go vegan; sure, that will save the fish, but who wants to be a fish living in such toxic conditions? Let’s start thinking of others and the greater picture and change our habits before it’s too late. We’re all in this together, folks, and the ramifications of our consumption seem never-ending and exponentially dangerous.
Here’s how I’m using less plastic. Add yours in the comments section so we can help each other reduce our waste, protect our health, and save our precious oceans.
- Bring reusable bags when shopping (grocery, Target, department stores, etc.)
- Bring reusable veggie bags when grocery shopping
- Use glass containers instead of Tupperware. I bought a Snapware set at Costco and I also recycle glass food containers I purchase at the store
- Buy in bulk whenever possible
- Buy food & beverages sold in glass containers instead of plastic
- Rinse out plastic and glass containers and recycle instead of throwing away
- Dry clean as little as possible to reduce plastic garment bag use
- Use a stainless steel water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water
- Bring your own mug when buying coffee
- Purchase children’s toys made of wood, silicone, and safer plastics whenever possible
- Vote with your dollar: whenever possible, purchase natural, biodegradable materials or items that contain as little packaging as possible
Here’s a link to the Fresh Air interview with Edward Humes.