Join the move to remove: keep plastics out of our oceans

Together, we can end plastic pollution

  • Wednesday, March 6, 2019 5:20pm
  • Opinion

By Hannah Scholes, for the Auburn Reporter

The use of plastics in the world today allows for innovation and convenience that suits our fast-paced lives. From baby bottles and laptop casings to automobile dashboards, we rely on plastic products and packaging every day.

Plastic offers unique flexibility for design, manufacturing and durability. It can be clear or produced in an array of beautiful colors. It’s amazingly lightweight for shipping.

When it comes to disposal, however, we run into trouble. Only about 9 percent of plastic is recycled worldwide. To make matters worse, about 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans as litter each year.

Much of this ocean plastic enters waterways in and near countries undergoing rapid development – parts of the world where environmental infrastructure and regulation are lacking. Through the ocean’s currents, bits of plastic end up in gigantic floating formations thousands of miles from shore. Plastic pollution is a staggering and complex issue.

How do we tackle it? How do we stop plastic waste from making its way into our oceans? No one person, company or nation has the answer – and yet there is agreement that meaningful change will require all of us working together. Solving part of the plastics problem begins with our own behaviors, at home, school and work. How can we help? Here are a few simple ideas:

Choose reusable. About 40 percent of the plastic produced today is used only once before it is thrown away. Do your part to cut down on single-use plastics in everyday life. Always bring your re-usable coffee mug, water bottle, grocery bag, fork, take-out container, etc.

Recycle Right. Check your local recycling guide and recycle the plastic items you see on the list. These items have stable markets to ensure the materials are made into new products. To see what’s on the recycling list in your community, visit wmnorthwest.com/auburn.

Buy products made with recycled content. Yes, it’s true. Consumers have the power to create demand for products made from recycled materials. We can create strong markets for recyclables by buying the products made from those recycled materials.

Spread the word. Encourage those around you to make lifestyle changes to reduce waste and recycle right. Individual actions may seem small, but when we’re all working together, we can make a huge impact.

If you’d like to learn more about plastics in the ocean, and how you can help, check out this National Geographic article.

Together, we can end plastic pollution and clean up our oceans for future generations.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s education and outreach manager. Learn more about plastic recycling at RecycleOftenRecycleRight.com.

More in Opinion

To expel or not to expel Rep. Shea, that may be the question

Results of a private investigation could put the fate of GOP lawmaker in front of the House in 2020

Drones planting trees in burned wildlands

While drones are coming of age in firefighting, they are also establishing… Continue reading

Tribes outraged by EPA move to roll back improved water quality standards

Treaty Indian tribes in Western Washington are outraged that the Environmental Protection… Continue reading

Dozen advisory measures on the ballot will tax voters’ attention

OLYMPIA – If you’ve lost count of how many new and higher… Continue reading

Vote yes on the King County Parks Levy | GUEST OP

Preserve our green spaces to protect public health and well-being

Got your grill on? Hot Coals – great for Burgers, bad for garbage

Summer has finally arrived in Auburn. The sun is shining, gardens are… Continue reading

America’s renewed interest in the moon

Today’s space race not only has China and India competition, but private sector investors as well

In tough month, an ally becomes a competitor for Eyman

After getting signatures for a measure that didn’t qualify, Restore Washington wants to do its own.

Nothing cheesy: Apollo missions brought us more than just the moon

America needed something to bring people together. Apollo 11 accomplished that.

2020 Census and the importance of being counted

Census affects everything from government representation to federal funding.

Recycling right in Auburn

Waste Management Recycle Corps interns on the job help us build recycling muscle memory

China’s mighty migrating mandate

Country has to get serious about its trash problem as its fast-paced economy expands