Without sounding like popular ’80s comedian Yakov Smirnoff, I’m an immigrant to this country and there are a lot of idiosyncrasies that stand out, still, even after 20+ years of living here, as super weird.
For instance: any supermarket is (literally and figuratively) full of plastic-wrapped items. You open the plastic once. You throw it away and it sits in a landfill forever. You even bring home the plastic-wrapped items in plastic bags that take forever to biodegrade, or just sit in the ocean for decades. It makes zero sense, but that’s the way that it’s been done for years, and there’s a powerful plastic lobby to ensure it stays that way.
But what if it we could stop using so much plastic?
A Dutch supermarket chain, Ekoplaza, recently unveiled their plastic-free supermarket. With 700+ items and not a plastic to be seen, it’s an environmentalist’s dream. And it’s quickly spreading. The UK is planning a 25-year plan to eradicate plastics from supermarkets, with popular grocery chain Iceland (not to be confused with the country of Iceland) pledging to go plastic free by 2023.
And as for Ekoplaza, it’s not just the one store. Ekoplaza plans to have plastic-free aisles in each of its 74 stores by the end of the year and will use those aisles to test out new biodegradable packaging.
Do you think this idea could work in America? Not if the plastic lobby keeps it their way. From a Washington Post article in 2015:
The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is supported by major plastics manufacturers, spent over $3 million on consultants and a petition management company between October and December, when it was collecting signatures. The group told the San Francisco Chronicle that plastic bags, like those handed out by restaurants and stores, are a $100 million- to $150 million-a-year business in California. That’s well worth the $3 million investment, Chronicle columnistsPhil Matier and Andy Ross noted.
Keep in mind that’s just California. New York City throws out 1,700 tons of plastic bags every week.
That’s a lot for just one word: plastics.