This fact-laden piece by The New Yorker ("How Plastics Are Poisoning Us" by Elizabeth Colbert) spins another dark tale on plastics, the facade of recycling them, and how shitty they are to our planet.
We already know a lot of this — we collectively don't trust that plastics are being recycled (you really won't after reading this), corporations using plastic vessels and those creating them will never change their mind, and replacement materials are surprisingly less efficient or useful for plastic tasks. These are real, hardcore problems in displacing plastic.
But Elizabeth buries the lede at the bottom of the article:
If much of contemporary life is wrapped up in plastic, and the result of this is that we are poisoning our kids, ourselves, and our ecosystems, then contemporary life may need to be rethought.
Contemporary life is a ludicrously big statement. But what else is there to say? Part of what enabled the integrity of logistics for the global goods ecosystem was plastic packaging. How would we go about changing it?
Perhaps global ecosystems are a major part the problem. Maybe we need to focus more on local ecosystems, and here in the US, state-by-state or city-by-city. Let's focus more on local retail, local production, and local uses vs importing everything from everywhere. It can be an incremental, purposeful movement that starts small, but we know money is the only true lever. And by encouraging the adoption of non-plastic packaging for use in local/proximity environments, or accommodate other materials for storage/in-store shelving — especially for spoilable goods (subsidies, anyone?) — we can start to make the impact that compounds globally.