ARTICLES

Vancouver says goodbye to plastic bags

 

 

 

plastic bags earth

 

 

Is this it for Vancouver’s plastic bags and coffee cups? It doesn’t have to be…

We have seen it all over the globe…plastic bag bans and now disposable paper cups. Paper cups are coated with a polyethylene to keep them water and heat resistant, but this coating prevents the paper cup from biodegrading in landfills….well it did until we invented a biodegradable coating designed specifically for landfills.

Cities all over the world have had enough with plastic waste and they are calling for desperate measures to get rid of them…and my hometown of Vancouver is hopping on the bandwagon. But should we be banning such a useful product or instead promoting responsibility as a human race and embracing technology at the same time? Is it plastics fault or ours? Do we blame the hand for slapping the face or the mind that thought that it was a good idea in the first place? Let’s get deep. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….plastic is awesome. Most of the products and innovations we have today are largely due to the invention of plastics. It’s uses are infinite and it is used in a lot of products. From cell phones, toys, tools, vehicles, this tray table that I am typing on in my airplane to Boston, this chair that I’m sitting in, the rug under my feet….the very shirt on my back! That’s right….that ugly leisure suit your dad wore to prom was made from plastic. Polyester to be exact.

Plastic seems to be everywhere and just the mention of the word ‘plastic’ usually has a negative association with most people. It’s not a shock is it? Dead whales wash up on shore with bellies full of fish netting and plastic bags. Floating plastic masses the size of Texas just hang out in the Pacific Ocean. (I’ll have a link to this human-inflicted disaster of epic proportions below) And what about those birds with the six pack rings wrapped around their necks?? It’s just embarrassing.

So let me ask you this; Should we ban cars because so many people die in car crashes? Or airplanes? How about snowboards because of all the concussions? How about surfboards. I think there have been a few shark attacks on surfers. Well I am going to be presumptuous and assume the majority of us would say ‘no’. The reality is that the payoff is worth it right? We risk busting our skulls for the joy of snowboarding or polluting the environment for the convenience of driving. And plastic is no different. The benefits outweigh the negatives. I know what your thinking. ‘No it doesn’t! If we continue to throw plastic into the ocean and in the trash, we will poison the planet’. Your damn right! And I’ll get back to that statement in a bit, but let’s address the benefits first.

Let’s just take bags as this is the largest issue right now. India banned plastic bags in 2012 and in my opinion, they are suffering because of it. For the developing world, plastic bags are important. Now I want to stress that I have done little research on the dependency of plastic bags in the developing world. I’m kicking this old school. I have lived in India for 6 months in my early twenties. I’ve worked on housing projects in Mexico City and I’ve travelled through Nepal and mainland China and just last year my partners and I travelled to Mumbai to pitch Breakdown Plastic to the chamber of commerce. (This is where I, again heard the need to bring back plastic bags) I am strictly going off of my observations. And what i saw was plastic as a form of transportation. Indians use plastic bags to cart around almost everything. I even saw a small Nepalese man carrying a full sized fridge on his back by using plastic bags tied together in a make shift strap. There are innovators everywhere!

Now let’s get back to the negatives. We all know the planet is in trouble. Climate change due to mostly agriculture (watch Cowspiracy on Netflix and have your mind blown), over cropping, destruction of rainforests, and plastic oceans. But what is the common theme? It’s not as easy as saying it is the machines that destroy trees, or cars that pollute the planet….its people. We are doing this and blaming everything around us. Yes I know…we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to clean transportation unless you live in a warm climate and can ride a bike, but again, who’s to blame?

We had technology in the 1800’s to run engines on vegetable oil but there were more profits to be earned from petroleum. As a species we revelled in the discoveries and profits of these new technologies. We consumed like never before without a thought to the future and the effect it would have on generations to come. And now we protest oil pipelines and ban bags because they pollute the planet. We blame cars and fossil fuel emissions for global warming when it is actually the meat industry that causes the most damage due to the mass amounts of cows shit and farts and the amount of water and grain needed to keep them alive….no joke! If we took all the grain fed to cattle we could feed the world 3 times over. It’s our fault that we over consume. It’s our fault that we are so irresponsible and wasteful and it’s our fault that this planet is at an ecological tipping point. Mankind pushed forward and it’s hard to go backwards. Population is exploding and with it, pollution…and we need to stop blaming inanimate objects for the pollution and take responsibility for our actions.

The reason our scientists have developed our additive was out of necessity. We know things are getting worse and we have decided to use technology to help alleviate the problem. If we as a species love tech so much then let’s use it to help Mother Nature. If we constantly push forward in the great glorious achievements of man and woman, than our technology pushes forward with it. If we can’t be responsible with waste than our technology will have to handle it. Until the glorious day when we have the recycling infrastructure that can reuse every piece of plastic, our additive is necessary.

Just like police are needed to keep crime in check, breakdown plastic is needed to keep plastic waste in check. It would be best if there were no criminals, but until that happens there will always be police. Forget banning all plastic! Lets cut back usage and wasteful packaging. Then lets be responsible with it and recycle it. Do your part! But also understand that no matter how much we increase the amount of plastic being recycled, the increase in plastic production globally will always be growing exponentially faster than our recycling efforts. So lets not be old school and burn scientist at the stake for saying the earth is round. We have come a long way and we should use science and technology to solve serious problems where we can. Until plastic is no longer produced  or we can recycled every bit of it, there will always be a need for Breakdown Plastic.

 

The great pacific garbage patch: http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-considering-ban-on-disposable-coffee-cups-plastic-bags-1.3436086