Letter: Do our part to avoid single-use plastics

Graphic by Lori Deaton

By 2025, there will be 1 pound of plastic in the ocean for every 3 pounds of fish — unless we make a change. Plastic in the ocean poses an immediate threat to marine life, but can also contribute to ocean acidification and climate change. Unfortunately, single-use plastics are everywhere you look, especially in the food service industry. These items, when littered, can be carried by tributaries and rivers all the way to the ocean. Even when items are recyclable, they will likely just be thrown away.

Due to its slow decomposition rate, every piece of plastic we’ve ever made is still around somewhere: in use, in landfills or in oceans. The only way to stop this trend is to reduce consumption and thereby reduce production of single-use plastics.

Many restaurants in Asheville have stopped offering plastic straws in response to this issue, which is an impressive step in the right direction. Straws, however, make up a trifling percentage of plastic waste, and real progress will take much more effort.

We can all do our part by avoiding single-use plastic. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store, use refillable water bottles and find “green” alternatives to plastic packaging.

— Luke Taylor
Asheville

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14 thoughts on “Letter: Do our part to avoid single-use plastics

  1. Richard B.

    Finally hearing someone talk about the absurd recent collective public fad of focusing on STRAWS only as a major source of ocean going plastic waste, when it is patently obvious that it is, at best, a miniscule percentage. To anyone whose mind is not clouded by the latest threat to our planet as espoused by You Tube and other social media “experts”, including the 15 year old youngster whose You Tube rant against straws went viral, think about the plastic cups, forks, knives, spoons, plates, and others I cannot think of, that will float down streams and rivers to the ocean. Think about how many more cubic tons of those items is involved versus straws.

    This is not to say that straws, along with all other floatable plastic items that can reach the ocean via tributaries, should NOT be included in the clean up effort. It IS to say how amazing it is how folks become attached to a singular, media-hyped, puffed up notion while their cognitive function becomes clouded concerning the big picture, and illogical distraction takes over. To prove the point, just walk down the “paper & plastics” aisle of any supermarket. Count the feet, or inches more likely, of straw SKU’s versus the entire plastics section.

  2. OzarksRazor

    Nice sentiment and I personally should do more to be aware of my consumption of disposables… but how would “Beer City” survive without all of our ‘red~solo cupped’ festivals? I mean, we aren’t even breaking even as a city without that branding adding to our unsustainable tourism and lack of infrastructure issues. 🙁

    • Lulz

      Plastics in the ocean come from Asian countries. People here don’t want to believe that the USA isn’t the bad guy, Their hatred of Americans is why frauds can show up and take advantage. This Green New Deal being talked about won’t solve anything because most of it has nothing to do with the environment. But it will destroy the economy. And the whackjobs even admit now that facts are irrelevant. It’s about “morals” and because it “feels” right.

      • Mike

        Are you seriously trying to spin a call for individual environmental responsibility into anti-Asia propaganda? The writer says not one word about the Pacific ocean. Everyone on the planet is responsible for their individual environmental impact, all the writer is asking is that we accept said responsibility.

        • Lulz

          LOL I’m seriously telling you that Asia accounts for the majority of platics floating in the ocean. You can do whatever you wish. But your efforts will be naught until other nations take responsibility for their pollution.

        • Richard B.

          If you’re not talking about the totality of plastics in the oceans, then it is not a serious discussion. China and India, are respectively, the #1 and #2 sources of the world’s plastic waste. No sense arguing, just google to get the facts. Also, kinda silly to accuse Lutz of being anti-Asian because he provides statistics necessary for the discussion.
          Accepting “said responsibility” can co-exist alongside the facts. Stop losing your arguments by petty, insulting comments.

          • SpareChange

            Appropriate points which nonetheless do require some fleshing out. One of the reasons Asian countries are the worst polluters is because much of the plastic waste from the U.S. and Europe gets shipped to Asia for “recycling.” Of course, out of sight, out of mind, and there is little if any incentive for companies or governments to track what ultimately becomes of the waste. Of course much of it ends up in the ocean.

            For its part, China has now prohibited the importation of plastic waste, and other Asian governments may follow suit, prompting us and other nations to send more to even lesser developed countries with even less capacity to process things, and even weaker governments and regulatory authorities to monitor how the waste is dealt with.

            In short, it is incorrect to just point a finger at any country or set of countries as being the “worst polluters.” Such “facts” should not be severed from the reality that “disposal” or “recycling” is only the end point of a lengthy process of demand, production, use, and disposal. If the U.S. is a key player in the demand, production, and use parts of the equation, and then sends much of its plastic waste to Asia, we cannot then just conveniently and self-righteously point the finger at those countries as being the “worst polluters.”
            https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/05/huge-rise-us-plastic-waste-shipments-to-poor-countries-china-ban-thailand-malaysia-vietnam

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    ‘unsustainable tourism’ … lol … ok, then we must ban tourism now, right city council ? Ban the tourism now. Tell the tourists we are done with this shite. Stay home and stop destroying our sidewalks!

    • OzarksRazor

      Why do you even respond? Have you been remotely or even actively involved in local political discourse about the tourism problem here? The mayor (The “Head”, if you will, of City Coucil) said it herself not long ago.
      *insert hard eye roll emoji here*
      Find someone without a modicum of intelligence to troll if you need to try and make yourself feel better.

  4. NFB

    Once again a MX discussion on a legitimate topic goes off totally the rails.

  5. Cecil Bothwell

    Reduction of single-use plastics is going to be a tough row to hoe. For example, plastic shopping bags. I’ve used my own cloth bags for years – BUT I still use the plastic now and again for “free” garbage bags that fit the waste basket under my sink. (I fill about one of those each week, sometimes less- my total non-recyclable trash in a typical week). If those shopping bags were banned, I’d have to buy trash bags – not a huge cost, but it would simply replace a freebie with a purchase. I’m old enough to recall having to take out the family trash in a paper grocery bag with the bottom falling out.
    Food packaging is another tough nut. Our modern produce departments mist green veggies. Are you going to put wet kale in a paper sack? (Hint: save your plastic produce bags in your cloth shopping bag and reuse them, at least.) For non-vegans, what are you going to use to tote that salmon or pork chop?
    BTW- be sure to recycle extra plastic bags at a grocery or other store with a collection bin. And not just the shopping bags – the bird seed bag, the wrapper of those 12 rolls of toilet paper, and lots more can be recycled – just pay attention to the TYPE of plastic, which is generally printed on the them these days. There are two types of bags that recycle.
    The beer cups are a real puzzle. State law prohibits refilling them, so you get a fresh cup with each serving. What a waste! You can’t even take your own cup to Downtown After Five!
    Obviously recycle all you can – and pay attention people! #1, #2 plastics recycle #5 and #7 generally do not. Do not put plastic bags in the recycle bin – those go back to the grocery store. Remove lids from plastic bottles, they are generally NOT recyclable. (Another example of the difficulty of eliminating single-use. I guess the recyclable plastics aren’t sturdy enough to make good caps.)
    Styrofoam DOES NOT recycle.
    To learn more go to http://www.curbie.com/

  6. Cecil Bothwell

    I checked with Curbie and stand corrected. #5 and #7 DO RECYCLE now.
    Here’s their answer:
    It doesn’t necessarily matter the number anymore. We have 3 questions to ask, and if it’s a yes to all of them than it would be something we accept-

    1. Is it a container?
    2. Can you find it in a grocery store?
    3. Does it have a recycling symbol on the bottom, or somewhere else?

    Some things are still recyclable even if it doesn’t fit this context, i.e. prescription pill bottles.”

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