My friend Mike DeLucia posted from Germany earlier this week about packaging for items such as fast foods there. It’s largely paper, biodegradable paper.
That same day I met a client/friend for coffee at Starbucks in the afternoon. I had an unsweetened iced tea, about 12 oz. We talked for about 45 minutes, I finished the tea. We both commented we didn’t see a container there for plastics to be recycled. We just saw TRASH containers. I took the plastic cup with me back to his office to put in a container marked RECYCLE PLASTIC ONLY. So did my friend.
There is a one in five chance that the plastic container my tea was served in will be properly recycled into something new and again recycleable. There is a much greater chance it won’t be.
There is so much plastic in the world’s (and our own) ecosystems now there are small amounts of plastic inside each of our own bodies. There is plastic in the water we drink and the food we eat.
I didn’t bother to research, but I’m pretty sure before WWII plastic was largely unknown. It was post war 1950s the use of plastic exploded. That’s less than eighty years.
My question is if Europe can get it right, why can’t we here in the US? Is it just another example of the power of the lobbyists buying congress. My guess is it probably doesn’t matter. This American system is like a dying cancer patient when that horrible final line is crossed and hope is abandoned for palliative care. Guns, cigarettes, the greatest healthcare system in the world—unaffordable to about 40% of the population—air pollution, climate change, endless war, the rise of fascism, all kinds of stuff is going to end us. I can’t imagine congress will get to my Starbucks ice tea cup any time soon.
The thought that my cup will, in some form, outlive me, my kids and their kids and those kids children and still have a long way to go. The fact that cup that used for forty-five minutes and it may last in some form for the next thousand years, unless parts of it ends up in your gut will not leave me.
I don’t know how any of us can be ok with this, but we seem to be.
Thanks for the post, Mike. It was yet another great example of American exceptionalism.