Every now and then, I think about this particular scene in “The Graduate,” a 1967 film with Dustin Hoffman. “One word: Plastics”   In retrospect, it seems a harbinger of our current plastic pollution woes.

Indeed, according to a July 2019 National Geographic Magazine article, “Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them.”

Plastic by the numbers—same article:

  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
  • Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.
  • Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations.
  • Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down. That’s 14 generations!

So a question for you on Earth Day 2021 is “How can we tackle the plastics problem at the user level?

  1. One of the biggest culprits of plastic pollution is individual water bottles. There are plenty of options for reusable water bottles
  2. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually. This fact should give you reason enough to take cloth bags to the store.
  3. Buy more bulk food and fewer packaged products. Purchase detergent, dish soap etc. in bulk with reusable glass bottles
  4. Replace plastic storage containers for glass or steel containers
  5. Lead by example and make those around you aware of the importance of reducing the consumption of plastic.

Learn more! Our World in Data  has all the FAQ’s about plastic. If you learn about global plastic production, distribution, management, and impacts, you can better manage how to change your individual plastic usage.

For almost ten years, Spare Parts has been educating children and adults in the San Antonio community how to ‘choose to reuse’ with its creative reuse programming. In late 2020, Spare Parts opened the Center for Creative Reuse which facilitates the intake of pre-owned creative materials and supplies that would otherwise be thrown away or underutilized and offers them back into the community through our program offerings and storefront.

The Spare Parts Center for Creative Reuse is located at 13491 Wetmore Rd, San Antonio, Texas, 78247.


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