Recycling can feel like hard work, especially if your local municipality doesn’t come to collect recyclables from your driveway once a month. But it’s a good thing, right? Well, yes. Which is why this recent global exposé is particularly discouraging: A Guardian investigation has found that hundreds of thousands of tons of US plastic are being shipped every year to poorly regulated developing countries around the globe for the dirty, labor-intensive process of recycling. The consequences for public health and the environment are grim.
The report details how in 2018, “the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling were exported from the US to developing countries that mismanage more than 70% of their own plastic waste.” The odds are good that even your “recycled” plastics don’t get recycled.
One takeaway from this important story: let’s keep recycling, but let’s also be aware of just how much of this wonder-product we use. I've felt very convicted about this recently and promise you that once you start looking at your purchases and practices through the lens of plastic use, you’ll be shocked at just how much you could do without. Plastic is an American addiction, yes, but the first step in treatment is realizing you have a problem. Read "The United States of Plastic" at The Guardian. Be sure to check out their other extensive reporting on our global plastic crisis as well.