Why plastic isn’t the bad guy – and efforts to turn the problem around

Seems there’s something of a hate campaign against plastic at the moment, but is it fair? Blogger Stuart Pearcey argues that it may well not be, and highlights some heart-warming work to clean up the oceans.

Everywhere you look these days, someone is complaining about discarded plastic. But I’d suggest that pinning the blame on plastic is a serious miscarriage of justice. The problem isn’t necessarily plastic, it’s us.

Look at all the plastic washed up on beaches. Chances are much of it is there because someone hasn’t disposed of it correctly.

Then there are the ‘hidden plastics’, like those in ‘disposable’ wipes which aren’t really that disposable, and certainly didn’t ought to be flushed, because 90% of them contain, as far as the UK is concerned, plastic. Really.

Those are just two of the examples of how the amount of plastic bobbing about in our oceans or gumming up the environment generally is there because Mankind, as a species, is careless, thoughtless, or greedy.

The first two are about people not caring, but the third is a little more sinister – one can only wonder why ‘disposable’ wipes contain plastic. Could it have something to do with maximising profits by the manufacturers? Perish the thought. Would it take a great leap of ingenuity to make a truly disposable wipe? After all, we managed to get CFCs out of white goods (they’re a refrigerant, now replaced, that were said to be damaging the ozone layer)

And that throws the onus right back on us to be change makers, by recycling plastics; giving them back to the manufacturing chain where they are a valuable raw material to make new plastic which can go around and around for repeated re-use.

All of which is good for the ocean, as Solo Expenses understands. The company donates a proportion of its profits to a number of worthy causes through a Giving Back initiative, one of which is the adoption of a dolphin called Hope, since the company hopes to raise awareness of the need to help others by caring for the oceans.

Two surfers have gone a step further, with the creation of 4Ocean, which employs 150 people across almost 30 countries, with the role of ‘harvesting’ plastics from the sea. So far, their initiative, sparked by a visit to Bali, has recovered more than 1,600 tons of plastic. The harvesters are paid a wage from the sale of bracelets made for 4Ocean using post-consumer recycled glass waste and cords made from recycled plastic.

Said company founder Andrew Cooper: “Every bracelet purchased funds the removal of a pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines. In less than two years, 4ocean has removed 4,547,927 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines.”

But we all have a responsibility. If you must buy products in plastic, dispose of it responsibly. Only then will we cease to be part of the problem, and become part of the solution. You might say that together we could turn the tide…

Picture: 4Ocean