Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution has become a pressing global issue that is closely tied to our continuing extraction and use of fossil fuels. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away. Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year, of which only 8 percent gets recycled. Chemicals leached by plastics are now found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us and can cause serious health issues, including cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments. Since plastics don’t biodegrade, our planet is choking in plastic waste and plastics are now becoming part of the Earth’s fossil record and a marker of the Anthropocene.

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Protecting Marine Mammals from Plastic Pollution

March 23, 2023 – It’s time for Congress to protect marine mammals from dangerous plastic pollution.

Mark J Palmer

Ingested Plastic Causes Buoyancy Issues in Some Sea Turtles

October 13, 2021 – Consuming plastic debris can lead to “floating syndrome,” especially in juveniles. Without intervention, many will not survive.

Brianna Grant

Imagining a World Free of Plastic Waste

July 1, 2021 – In just a decade, the Plastic Free July initiative has grown from a grassroots movement to a global campaign.

Aleisha Orr

Sailing the Seas on Reused Plastic

April 19, 2021 – A Swahili dhow known as the FlipFlopi shows that environmental innovation can coexist with tradition.

Tasha Goldberg

Plastic Pollution in Atlantic Ocean at least 10 Times Worse than Thought

August 19, 2020 – Scientists warn prevalence of plastic pollution may pose risks to human and ocean health.

Fiona Harvey The Guardian

Single-Use Plastics Are Not Safer

April 29, 2020 – The plastics industry is exploiting people’s fears of contracting Covid-19 to push its agenda.

Emily DiFrisco and Sandra Curtis

Earth Island Sues 10 Companies, Including Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle, Over Plastic Use

February 26, 2020 – Lawsuit seeks to hold major food, beverage, and consumer goods companies accountable for plastic pollution.

Zoe Loftus-Farren

The Problem with Plastics

January 1, 2020 – Since the 1950s, we have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste.

Anna Lappé

Using an Old Law to Fight New Plastic Pollution

November 18, 2019 – A recent court ruling in Texas reminds us that enforcement of the Clean Water Act is a crucial part of the plastics fight.

Sarah J. Morath

Towards a Plastic-Free Future

March 15, 2019 – How my art and love for the ocean inspired me to work on plastic pollution

Dianna Cohen

Crafting a Federal Ban on Single-Use Plastics

March 5, 2019 – Experts say Congress could look to local policies to shape national legislation on throwaway plastics

Erica Cirino

We #StandWithEllen: Pennsylvania Grandmother Sent to Prison For Protesting Plastics Pipeline

August 6, 2018 – Ellen Sue Gerhart has been an outspoken opponent of the Mariner East 2 pipeline that is to run through her family’s land

Ethan Buckner

Unseen Plastics in Our Water

June 18, 2018 – How citizen science informed a new study that revealed the extent of microplastic and microfiber pollution in marine ecosystems

Emily DiFrisco

Could Worms and Bacteria Offer a Solution to Plastic Pollution?

May 14, 2018 – Research suggest that plastic-eating caterpillars and mutant enzymes could help break down trash

Elodie Guéguen-Teil

Study Finds 73% of Deep Water Fish Ingested Microplastics

February 19, 2018 – The sampled fish may have originated from a particularly polluted patch of the Atlantic Ocean

Lorraine Chow

China’s Ban on Plastic Waste Imports Is a Wake-Up Call

February 15, 2018 – Recycling is not enough: We need bold solutions to deal with our plastic overproduction problem

Claire Arkin

Toward A Plastic-Free Future

December 22, 2017 – Simply recycling just doesn’t cut it; we need a major lifestyle shift. Here are some options

Bibi Farber

Tap Water Across the Globe Contains Plastic, Study Shows

September 8, 2017 – Eighty-three percent of water samples worldwide tested positive for microscopic fibers

Emily DiFrisco

A Million Plastic Bottles Are Bought Around the World Every Minute

June 29, 2017 – World's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change,' say campaigners

Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor The Guardian

Can California Finally Ditch Single-Use Plastic Bags?

October 11, 2016 – Proposition 67, facing fierce industry opposition, puts the issue before voters

Zoe Loftus-Farren

Plastic Debris is Contributing to the Potential Extinction of Endangered Marine Species

February 23, 2015 – Threatened or near threatened species make up 17% of all marine animals impacted by manmade debris, says report

Maureen Nandini Mitra

9 Million Tons of Plastic Waste WIll End Up in Our Oceans in 2015, Says New Study

February 12, 2015 – Researchers warn that the trash could increase more than tenfold in the next decade

Maureen Nandini Mitra

Recycled Plastic Clothing: Solution or Threat?

December 15, 2014 – Research shows that synthetic clothing sheds plastic microfibers, which end up back in oceans

Elizabeth Claire Alberts

Plastic Bag Industry Campaigning to Overturn California’s Plastic Bag Ban

November 13, 2014 – Big Plastic, which stands to lose big profits, wants to get a referendum on the November 2016 ballot

Zoe Loftus-Farren

It’s Official! California Is Now the First US State to Ban Plastic Bags

September 30, 2014 – Environmentalists celebrate, but say tackling widespread plastic pollution needs national and global-level action

Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor

70 Years On, Seabirds Continue to Warn about Plastic Pollution in the Oceans

June 6, 2014 – Plight of the flesh-footed shearwater in Australia illustrates how widespread the problem is

Elizabeth Claire Alberts

Plastic Microbeads: Don’t Use as Directed

June 2, 2014 – These beads are so small they wash down the drain, escape wastewater treatment plants and are carried straight to rivers, lakes, and the oceans.

Annie Leonard

California Moves to Ban Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products

May 26, 2014 – Bill passed by state assembly sets a national precedent for holding companies liable for products that harm aquatic species


Businesses Go Beyond Plastic

September 3, 2013 – Plastic Pollution Coalition: Beyond Plastic

Maureen Nandini Mitra

Businesses Find Clever Ways to Move Beyond Plastic

June 21, 2013 – Think Beyond Plastic conference brought together thought-leaders and entrepreneurs from across the world

Maureen Nandini Mitra

San Francisco’s Plastic Bag Ban Expands in October

September 20, 2012 – City to extend ban to include retailers, bookstores, and clothing stores. Opponents vow to appeal

Haley Zaremba

Some Tips On How to Avoid Plastic While Traveling

May 22, 2012 – An Excerpt from the New Book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Beth Terry

Did the Plastic Industry Rewrite California’s Text Books?

August 22, 2011 – California state EPA allowed the American Chemistry Council, an industry group, undue influence over the drafting of the state’s new environmental curriculum.

Amy Westervelt

Breaking Down Bioplastics

May 31, 2011 – Is the Bioplastic Cup Half Full or Half Empty?

Mary Catherine O’Connor

Is the Plastic Industry the New Tobacco Industry?

March 23, 2011 – In a desperate attempt to stop the flow of information about the environmental and public health impacts of plastic, the industry is taking a few pages from the Philip Morris playbook.

Amy Westervelt

The Bioplastic Labyrinth

August 13, 2010 – Project Report: Plastic Pollution Coalition

Manuel Maqueda

Those World Cup Uniforms Are Cool, but Plastic Recycling Is a Waste of Time

June 16, 2010 – Downcycling slows the progress of plastic from your “recycling” bin to the landfill, but it doesn’t actually do much to solve the problem.

Amy Westervelt

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