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Get involved with plastic reduction in the Valley.

The Problem With Plastics

The amount of plastic waste generated worldwide is on track to almost triple by 2060, with half ending up in landfills and less than a fifth being recycled.[1]

How does plastic affect human health? Microplastics have been detected throughout the human body, including in the blood, saliva, liver, kidneys, and placenta. While research is developing, flags are being raised about cancer, reproductive issues, disruption to the nervous system, altered hormone metabolism, and lung and liver effects.[2]

What is the effect of plastic on the environment? Plastic does not biodegrade. It can take up to 1000 years to break down, so when it is discarded, it builds up in the environment until it reaches a crisis point.  It chokes marine wildlife, damages soil, and poisons groundwater.[3] Plastic and microplastic pollution is found in all ecosystems, from oceans and coasts to mountains, cities, and rural areas.[4]

How does plastic affect climate change? The extraction, production, and disposal of plastics cause the emission of significant greenhouse gases. In fact, plastic has a bigger impact on climate change than aviation and shipping combined. After all, 93% of plastics are made with fossil fuels, with just 6% made with recycled plastic.[5]

What is the social justice issue of plastics? We are all impacted by plastic in some ways, but certain people bear the brunt because of factors like their location or economic status. Plastic pollution disproportionately affects marginalized communities and communities living near plastic production and waste sites, constituting an environmental injustice.[6]

Where does Wood River Valley fit in?

The best way to stop plastic pollution from worsening its effects is to reduce plastic production and waste – and collectively, we can achieve that by cutting our community’s purchasing of plastics.

Wood River Valley cannot solve the world’s plastic pollution crisis, but it can do its part in addressing a key aspect of the issue: single-use plastic. Because single-use plastic makes up 40% of all plastic produced,[7] this is an obvious area where significant reductions can be made. 

As greater awareness of this problem gains steam around the world, the contributions of communities like Wood River Valley begin to add up. So, what can we do to help put a dent in the single-use plastic issue?

The Climate Action Coalition (CAC), working closely with the Environment Resource Center (ERC), is embarking on a project to make a difference in the amount of single-use plastic purchased in the Wood River Valley. 

For this effort to be successful, solid working relationships will need to be established with local merchants. Through these relationships, alternatives to single-use plastics can be identified and a process for promoting these alternatives can be developed. For our solution to be realistic, it must be convenient, affordable, and desirable for valley residents. Furthermore, for valley merchants it must be economically viable, easy to implement, and rewarding in its contribution to reducing the valley’s consumption of single-use plastics.

 

[1] OECD (2022), Global Plastics Outlook: Policy Scenarios to 2060, oecd.org

[2] Harvard Medicine (2023), Microplastics Everywhere, magazine.hms.harvard.edu

[3] United Nations (2023), Understanding plastic pollution and its impact on lives, un.org

[4] Geneva Environment Network (2024), A Glimpse on the Global Plastic Crisis, genevaenvironmentnetwork.org

[5] CleanHub (2024), How Does Plastic Affect Climate Change? blog.cleanhub.com

[6] UNEP (2021), Plastic pollution is an environmental injustice to vulnerable communities, unep.org

[7] National Geographic (2024), The world’s plastic pollution crisis, explained, nationalgeographic.com

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