On his show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host took on the plastics industry. In a widely shared segment, he spoke about consumers, plastic, why corporations need to step up and why plastics are everywhere.
He started by sharing that environmentalism has turned into consumers feeling the need to bear the brunt of recycling. Companies and policymakers have said “it’s up to you, the consumer, to stop pollution”, he said. “That has been a major throughline in the recycling movement often bankrolled by companies who wanted to drill home the message that it is your responsibility to deal with the environmental impact of their products.”
This feeds into current myths around recycling and our understanding that over 90% of plastics cannot be recycled. But consumers are under the guise of lobbyists and companies that encourage it anyway. “Honestly, it wasn’t all that difficult for them to convince us that all their waste is recyclable, because we so badly want to believe it,” Oliver said. “Lies go down easier when you want them to be true.”
Because we can no longer ship plastic imports to China, it now sits in dumps, toxic waste landfills, and oceans. Consumers and companies are now well aware of this. However, “frustratingly, the plastic industry’s response to all the damage you’ve seen is to make a big show of tiny improvement and then revert to what they’ve always done, which is heavily push the idea that if we as consumers simply tried hard enough, we could make our plastic problem go away,” said Oliver. But “our personal behavior is not the main culprit here, despite what the plastics industry has spent decades and millions of dollars trying to convince us.”
But without company action or legislation like the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, plastics will continue to be the consumer’s responsibility.
Sign this petition to demand that Biden and Congress work together to save our oceans, our marine animals, and our Earth by banning single-use plastics throughout the entire United States!
Read more about recycling and waste in One Green Planet. Check out these articles:
- America’s Largest Waste Management Company has Stopped Exporting Plastic Waste Overseas
- Why Your Recycling Isn’t Necessarily Being Recycled and How You Can Make a Difference!
- From Marine Animal Extinction to Ocean Pollutants: Everything You Need to Know About Plastic Pollution
- Microplastic Pollution in Soil is Threatening Human Health and Soil-Dwelling Organisms
- China’s Ban on Importing World Waste Has Caused a Major Bottleneck in Global Recycling
- Plastic Pollution #1 Killer Of Marine Wildlife According To Research
- 10 Heartbreaking Videos of Sea Animals Harmed by Plastic Pollution
- Why We Need to Wake Up and Do Something to Tackle Plastic Pollution in the Oceans
There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!
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