Communities across the globe are rethinking how we approach plastic use in our daily lives. Let’s face it: The mountains of plastic now polluting nearly every depth and corner of our oceans, the impacts of microplastic on wildlife, and the evidence of plastic showing up in our own bloodstreams has reached crisis proportions. Many of us were comforted by notions that recycling lessened the problem, making it easier to accept the prevalence of plastic in nearly every purchase we make. Now, however, economic and trade concerns are diminishing opportunities for recycling large portions of our plastics, and communities are being forced to cancel parts of their recycling programs. Some communities are adopting market approaches to the problem by encouraging their citizens to change the purchases they make and communicating to businesses that they want changes in packaging of the products they offer.

In our family, we have made the transition to carrying reusable stainless steel straws, eating utensils, water bottles, coffee mugs, etc., and saying no to plastic bags and utensils when shopping or eating out… Which nearly every establishment seems to automatically provide whether you request it (or need it) or not. In the home, we’ve made the switch to reusable bags, covers and containers including grocery and vegetable bags to bring to the store. We’ve also been purchasing more bulk products, shampoo and conditioner bars, bamboo toothbrushes, refillable hand soap containers, and the list goes on. Many of these changes are painless while some have been slower to implement, but we keep pushing ourselves to do better. The question remains, though, are these individual efforts enough to solve the greater systemic crisis of plastic?

Read the full article about the plastic crisis by Jacqueline Lowry at The North American Association for Environmental Education.