Does profound social change occur not at the top of the food chain, but at the grassroots? I discovered this to be true several weeks ago when we wrote about what was happening in our own community, very grassroots and a long way away from the sea. In Cleaning Up the Ocean: Do Our Actions Make a Difference? I described how the elementary school in our small rural community in Quebec, Canada had used the film “A Plastic Ocean” to inspire students to better understand how their daily consumption of plastic can affect the ocean. (art – Bonnie Monteleone)
Taking the film’s message to heart the kids wrote letters to our local newspaper, inspiring it to publish several in a feature story comparing the sustainable practices of each of our grocery stores and more broadly, describing how our community is reacting to the challenge of single use plastic.
So is the tide turning on Plastic Pollution?
Our largest grocer got rid of most plastic bags several years ago, offering instead paper bags or the option of buying a reusable bag. Management estimates that nearly 80% of their customers now bring their own reusable grocery bags. We do, but that’s not really the point of this article, which is that small grassroot movements can become a trend that moves cities, states and nations.
Much like solar and wind “clean” energies that have become an unstoppable force, even in the face of climate change denial. Single use plastic pollution is an issue whose time has come and has become an unstoppable force felt around the globe. We now see daily news updates on more and more bans of single use plastic.
New Delhi, India bans all forms of disposable plastic
Just this week we read of India leading the way with New Delhi banning all forms of disposable plastic used in the city. This is not just a ban on grocery bags but is all-encompassing and is of profound importance. An article published in the India Times says that “India is responsible for an astonishing 60% of all plastic that is dumped into the world’s oceans every year.” In addition, the illegal burning of plastic waste in landfills contributes to the country’s air pollution and premature deaths.
Hawaii, becomes the first state in the U.S. to ban plastic
No more will you be asked “plastic or paper” in Hawaii’s grocery stores. The city of Honolulu on Oahu, the state’s most populated island will follow similar laws already in effect on other islands. Hawaii becomes the first state in the U.S. to enact a plastic bag ban, California passed a partial ban last year that eliminated the annual use of 13 billion plastic bags.
Greenpeace reports on six successful plastic bans from locations as diverse as Morocco and Tasmania,
Taiwan bans plastic bags
Taiwan bans all plastic bags, straws and utensils with all single-use products to be banned by 2030. Taiwan’s program will be implemented in phases and includes expanded recycling and surcharges on the use of plastic products.
England, France and the EU
England and France have both banned single use plastic produce bags and it appears that the EU is on the verge of a similar ban. See our article: Life Beyond Plastic: Could the EU ban all single use plastic? And what about Legos?
UN Environment recently launched its #CleanSeas campaign to keep plastic waste out of the ocean, with many countries immediately joining in, including Belgium, Costa Rica, France and Indonesia.
Cut Plastics and take a Pledge!
So, do our grassroots efforts make a difference? Absolutely, they create the momentum that eventually moves everything else. The tide is turning on plastic pollution and you need to be part of the solution see the Global Citizen’s: “7 Ways to Cut Junk Plastic From Your Life.”
And check out the Greenpeace “plastics pledge.”
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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