Letter: What are you doing about plastic waste?
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To the editor:
287 pounds. That’s how much plastic waste the average American disgorges annually according to this report by the nongovernmental National Academy of Science. 240,000,000 metric tons in all. Why so much plastic? Plastic is cheap because its price does not include the costs paid by living beings.
Now, you can sit back and reassure yourself that it isn’t you that’s doing this. How much could those filmy plastic grocery store bags matter? Those containers of ketchup, juice, cheese, hamburger and birdseed really add up.
There’s only so much an individual can do. We’ve quit buying almost everything that comes in plastic, but are hanging on dearly to our Hellman’s Mayonnaise while we study recipes to make our own. You have to see how much mayo we consume annually to understand the depth of this sacrifice. BLT’s without Hellman’s? Unthinkable. But this is the year we’ll do it.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse hopes to awaken our conscience with legislation, but it will be resisted and denounced by the usual suspects (You have to answer to the shareholders) and will inevitably be watered down.
Still, I think it’s important for those of us living down here at see level to take a stand. Encouraged by city and county officials, churches and environment advocates could provide leadership. Groceries and retailers could try alternative packaging. You could send an encouraging email to co-sponsor Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan. Or ask our Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach to sponsor the bill in the House.
To do nothing is to cooperate while massive harm is done to ocean life and human health. Few of us would watch while a helpless person is abused. To stand idly by while a kind of murder is done isn’t illegal, but it grants permission to those who ought to listen to their better angels.