I haven’t left my house much these last few months due to the pandemic. However, I go on daily walks with my dogs, and just from walking around our neighborhood, I can already see that the single-use plastic problem has gotten even worse. Usually, we see plastic bottles, cups, takeout boxes, and wrappers flying around in the wind. However, recently I’ve found that it’s gotten even worse. Now on the daily walks, I also see plastic gloves and face masks lying around. This means it is even more important to get a handle on plastic production, packaging, and disposal.
Plastic can take centuries to decompose, contaminates our water and soil, and can even suffocate wildlife. Single-use plastic is even worse since it is designed to only be used once while still being equally harmful to the planet and its inhabitants. Luckily several countries and states in North America are beginning to understand the detriment of single-use plastics in our environment and are stepping in to regulate.
Starting in the United States, Maryland has recently banned foam takeout containers. Styrofoam is a sturdy plastic resistant to water, acids, bases, salts, and other corrosive substances. This makes it extremely difficult to break down. Styrofoam can take anywhere from a few years to a million years to fully decompose. Although this new ban isn’t perfect, Maryland is the first state to even impose such a ban, making it a great start.
January of this year, Mexico implemented its new plastic bag ban. Plastic bags have been the culprit of suffocating wildlife from both externally and internally. Perished animals have been found horrifically stuffed with plastic bags in their stomachs, unable to eat or excrete waste. Some have bags stuck in their respiratory systems, making them unable to breathe. Furthermore, bags like these can take up to a hundred years to decompose, meaning our planet and the inhabitants on it continue to be at risk for many more years.
Finally, Canada has recently announced a more comprehensive plastic ban. Starting in 2021, plastic bags, straws, takeout containers, cutlery, coffee stirrers, and six-pack rings will be completely phased out. PPE and other medical equipment are not included in this ban as it is recognized as an essential single-use plastic for the safety of citizens. However, the country is working with local governments to find the best way to dispose of these plastics to continue moving Canada towards a zero plastic waste reality.
All of these bans are great news. We’re making progress towards being better inhabitants of our planet, but we still need to do more. Maryland cannot be the only state with a ban on styrofoam containers. The U.S. needs to follow in Canada’s footsteps and ban all single-use plastic as well. If this is something you want to see in the near future, before it’s too late, I urge you to find and contact your Senator here, your U.S. State representative here, or find them on Twitter here. Does your state or city have a new plastic ban not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to see more of them!
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Photo: David Clode via Unsplash