LETTER: Cutting use of plastics will improve planet’s long-term prospects

I too have wrestled with the choice between paper or plastic

To the editor,

Re: Bags are a feel-good fix, Letters, Jan. 16.

Humanity produced more than 300 million tonnes of new plastic in 2014, a 20-fold increase since 1964.This is estimated to triple by 2050 if we do nothing. A mere five per cent is estimated to be recycled ‘efficiently,’ with 40 per cent going to landfills, 30 per cent into the ocean and the rest burned.

Every piece of plastic ever made remains on the planet somewhere decomposing into smaller and smaller pieces, causing inestimable damage to all living things that are surrounded by it and eat it by mistake including us.

I too have wrestled with the choice between paper or plastic but if you compare the downstream costs, paper with its relatively short life before total decomposition wins hands down over plastic that can take 500 years after that brief five minutes of use.

I too re-used plastic shopping bags for garbage but newsprint to line bins works fine and using large empty bags that contained pet food, potatoes, grapefruit, etc., will do just as well and cut down on overall use if a cloth bag is used for shopping. Tom Fletcher’s predictable criticism of ‘nanny politicians’ trying to slow the use of plastic bags is ill-informed. Since China banned the importation of foreign recyclables in December we can no longer carelessly assume they will deal with our mountains of waste; recycling is no longer enough, we must just stop using stuff that does not decompose. If we are unable to make the minor adjustments required for very little inconvenience then what does that say about our long-term prospects on a livable planet, our intelligence and our vaunted ability to adapt to changing circumstances? Is it really too hard to avoid fruit and vegetables in plastic containers, plastic straws, plastic cotton buds, throw away cups? C’mon people, we have to try harder.

Liz Fox, Lantzville

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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