Do you want to know more about what part you can play in recycling plastic materials?
Sorry, that’s not this blog. So, if you’re looking for instructions on being a good little girl or boy scout regarding how to recycle plastic, fair warning. Look elsewhere.
In a nutshell, there’s not a whole lot you can do to help make sure plastic gets recycled. If you live in the United States, you may have noticed that we’re amazing at packaging literally everything in plastic. Even our produce, which is going to rot and die before we finish eating it, gets wrapped in immortal plastic. But we’re not so great at recycling. What can be recycled hardly ever is, because recycling plastic is expensive. So as a country, we don’t really do it.
The vast majority of the plastic we use goes into a landfill.
There’s a slew of reasons why, and here’s a great article if you want to know more about the myth of plastic recycling in the United States.
But I’ll give you a quick rundown.
- It’s cheaper for oil companies to make new plastic than to recycle old plastic. So, that’s what they do. Constantly make new plastic and not worry about recycling the old stuff.
- There’s no infrastructure in place that makes plastic recycling cost effective in the US. Oil companies and plastic producers have known this since the 1970’s, and it hasn’t changed in 2020.
- When it comes to plastic, recycled materials don’t stand a chance unless the final product is something that’s going to be used long term (e.g. kitchen cabinet doors made of recycled plastic. How often do people change those out?). Plastic can only be once or twice before it has to be discarded. Which means, you still have to throw it away and into a landfill.
- The US was outsourcing plastic recycling to China and a couple of other Asian countries. However, in 2018, China and its plastic recycling affiliates told the US, “Nah, bruh.” (I wonder if those tariffs against China that went into effect in 2018 played any part? Asking for a friend.)
- As a result of all of the aforementioned, nearly all of the plastic produced every year ends up in a landfill.
Just think about that for a minute.
Every container of fruit you buy at the grocery store.
Those little plastic bags you store your avocados in before you check out of the grocery store.
Every set of plastic utensils you add to your cart when order food for delivery.
Every bottle of water.
Every time you buy cereal.
Every package you receive that’s cushioned with bubble wrap.
Every plastic bag you get from a store at checkout.
Those Solo cups for beer pong and flip cup (plastic cups wrapped in plastic).
There’s not a part of the average American’s daily life that isn’t touched by plastic.
And by touched, I mean substantially touched. Remember the Subway scandal when plastic materials were found in the bread? Yeah, that’s how pervasive plastic is.
I don’t say all this to shame anyone or to cast blame. I’m guilty too. Once upon a time, I thought I knew how to recycle plastic. Even now, I throw away plastic knowing full well it’s going into a landfill. I have a natural body care brand that uses plastic packaging for my body and massage oils because sometimes it’s the safest and most cost effective option.
I mention all of this to explain a phenomenon that’s going on behind the scenes in our country, one that’s been going since before I was born. It’s been going on for over 40 years at the time that I’m writing this blog post (in September 2020).
Assuming you trust what I’ve said so far (and maybe you even read the article), I have a question for you.
Knowing what you know, how do you feel about plastic packaging regarding a natural body care brand?
It’s a complicated question, I know. Alternative packaging is pretty limited. Some (not all) metal containers that are great, and I’ve used the awesome ones for my whipped body butters. But overall, the available options can be either dangerous (e.g. glass in the shower) or crazy expensive (e.g. biodegradable plastics, which aren’t available for bath and body care or microbusinesses as of yet).
But I want to know your thoughts.
Are you team #plasticalways?
Are you okay with glass containers depending on the situation? If so, when is glass not okay for you?
Or are you for the most sustainable packaging available no matter the cost? (hint: you have to be willing to pay that cost.)
Okay, that was more like questions…Still…
Comment if you feel some kinda way about plastics.
Or about not using plastics.