Plastic is everywhere.
It’s in our clothes and phones, in our sunscreens and supermarkets. Where it bothers me the most is seeing it strewn over our otherwise pristine beaches, those plastic rakes, shovels and buckets kids mindlessly leave behind.
Then there are all types of plastic fish, miniature boats and airplanes, stars, dinosaurs, castles, and other playthings. And those pervasive plastic bottles and jars and the worst offenders of all, their ubiquitous plastic caps.
My wife Rita and I keep picking them up as we walk on our beach, carting them home to discard in our recycle bin, some we keep adding to our now gargantuan collections taking over large parts of our condo apartment at the Chalfonte.
Plastics are clogging up our world, contaminating our environment, bedeviling our climate, since most are produced with fossil fuels, and they’re killing marine life as they infiltrate food chains, ensnarl animals and defile our beautiful landscapes.
Rita and I were featured on WPTV, the local NBC television station in Palm Beach County, Florida, ironically as I was once the #2-ranked exec at 30 Rock and now I’m collecting plastic clutter on the beach, recycling bits and pieces of it into art works. But I wonder: are we recycling them or are they recycling us as they’re increasingly in marine food chains and immense, floating garbage patches in our oceans.
How do we fix this?
Climate writer for The New York Times, Manuela Andreoni, reports nations are trying to come up with an answer, and this year will be critical in shaping a plastics treaty expected to blossom by the end of 2024.
The talks will have to square two contrasting views of plastic, she writes: “It’s a technological marvel that made a host of goods widely accessible and revolutionized medicine, but also a major contributor to climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”
Rising consumption worldwide means the plastic waste that’s going into waterways is set to more than double, and perhaps more than triple, by 2040. Environmentalists fear production will only skyrocket as the world quits oil and gas and fossil fuel companies pivot to plastic to sustain their profits.
How harmful is plastic?
It’s responsible for 3.4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and some fear plastic is also interfering with the ability of the oceans to capture carbon.
Fifty nations have joined the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, which is pushing for a treaty that will limit production of plastic with binding targets for every nation signing the pact.
Other countries, including fossil fuel-producing nations like Saudi Arabia and the United States, want a global agreement that focuses on recycling based on voluntary commitments, according to Climate Home News.
The conclusion of the treaty that limits production could deeply affect how we eat, clean our homes, and organize our days. So, stay tuned to writers like Andreoni who’ll be reporting on this important story as it evolves or dissolves.
When he’s not collecting plastic, Tom Madden is writing articles, blogs and books, including his latest WORLDSHINE MAN, full of tips on how to make writing inviting. And when not doing that, he’s running the PR firm, TransMedia Group, he started when he left NBC in New York City.