Believe in the power of cardboard. Plastics seemed like a dream when they burst onto the packaging scene, but lately disposing of the trash has become a nightmare. For years, people have tried different ways to recycle plastic, but China’s recent suspension of accepting European and American waste brings recycling to a crisis point. (Really?! We shipped our plastic trash to China? Do we even know what they actually did with it?).
Scientists say the world is dumping 8 million tons of plastic into the oceans every year, and it never really goes away. It’s choking fish, filling the bellies of seabirds and turtles, and even showing up in our drinking water.
Yuck. What’s the answer?
How about this: don’t make it. Use something sustainable and biodegradable instead.
Cardboard can be cut and folded, and the shapes used to replace Styrofoam and other plastic packaging. Some uses for plastic are harder to replace. The “moon shot” for cardboard aficionados is a soda bottle…
But he doubts a leak-proof bottle can be made purely out of paper. Even paper cups, he says, generally include plastic to keep the liquid from leaking.
Plastic is so ubiquitous, controlling it may seem impossible. So it’s good news to see companies finding ways to replace plastics and make a profit doing it.
Maybe plastic will never go away, but I hope we can save it for applications where there truly is no alternative. And perhaps we can use less packaging of all kinds. I’ve read that Amazon is asking some suppliers to prepare special packaging for them so your order won’t arrive double-boxed. That sounds smart for the environment and the bottom line. When we can do something smarter and cheaper, it’s going to happen.
Thanks to npr.org for their news story.