In the 90s, it was told to use plastic instead of paper to save the rainforest from deforestation. Now we’re taught to use paper instead of plastic to save the ocean from pollution.
It’s not that they were wrong. Plastic would be better, if people recycled and reuse. But now we’re willing to deal with deforestation because our planet is so polluted with plastic because nobody can be assed to recycle.
Plastic Bags vs. Paper Bags
“Reusable” plastic (now considered “single use”) was marketed as “better”. I do remember plastic bags being “better” than paper bags because they were more durable than paper and you got several uses out of one.
That’s what it’s all about, we could keep bouncing from one material source to another, but what we really need to do is use what we have produced rather than pillaging the planet in search of fresh resources to plunder. We will always exhaust the planet if we cannot make use of our own scraps.
The 3 R’s
In the 2010s, we were told to reduce, reuse and recycle. Now we’re told to buy disposable items in order to keep the economy afloat.
My friend was telling me how recycling is really inefficient.
Then he asked why I didn’t get a straw. “Reduce”, I said, “it’s the first ‘R’ for a reason”. He was surprised, it never occurred to him that the 3 R’s are in a specific order.
- Refuse = Reduce
- Repurpose = Reuse
When you reuse something there’s no energy used in collecting it and reprocessing it into something else that can be sold. You just use the same bag or bottle or whatever over and over.
Repurpose is also different in that you take some plastic and maybe cut it in half and use it for something completely new and different, hopefully over and over again as well!
Packaging can be pretty bad in the US, but my friend was in Japan recently and was blown away by how much *more* packaging everything used.
Example: A bite size ice cream snack thing from a vending machine. It came in a box, which had a plastic bag inside, and then inside that plastic bag, each individual piece had its own plastic wrapper.
Yes, the Japanese are meticulous when it comes to packaging. Yet with all those ridiculous amount of plastic you never hear Japan having troubles with the garbage, because they literally recycle 99% of it. Everyone who lives there knows how to separate their trash since if they don’t, it won’t be collected. So maybe they don’t reduce usage, but they sure recycle super effectively in a way only Japan can do.
Opting reusable carry bags is a very small step, many people are doing this, and plastic bags are going to be banned in most countries soon anyways. People will not change their behavior, they just do the easy thing. And because this is an issue that has implications to all people on the world and future generations, we should just regulate this… Consuming in general must be disincentivized, life cycles of products must be prolonged, and so on.