In this video, Van Jones discusses what he calls the economic injustice of plastic. When we trash the planet, we also trash the people. He argues that too often, the focus on the negative impacts of plastic go directly to nature, when in fact, plastic negatively effects the people of this world, too. But where, when, and how? Jones answers: the point of production, the point of use, and the point of disposal:
- At the point of production, harmful fumes can travel and effect vast areas of the surrounding environment. It’s common knowledge that people in lower income brackets tend to live in unsafe conditions; “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana, for instance, is an industrial behemoth that exposes those living in the area to harmful fumes as petroleum is treated and turned into plastic products. Health officials nearby estimate that one in ten people have died of cancer. These fumes actually kill people.
- At the point of use, studies done by Harvard University have found that chemicals in plastic can leech out into the food and beverages we consume. Some of these chemicals have been linked to health problems such as metabolic disorders, obesity, and reduced fertility.
- At the point of disposal, our recycled plastic is usually shipped overseas to developing countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, which receive 70% of the world’s plastic. This is dangerous because “recycling of plastic in many developing countries means the incineration of plastic,” Jones explains. Those countries do not have the resources or technology to handle proper recycling. The noxious fumes from this incineration are then sent directly into the air, damaging ecosystems and the lungs of those citizens.
So why does this continue to happen? We know that, frankly, plastic is popular because it is cheap. The availability and cost-effectiveness of plastic, therefore, has created a negative feedback loop of economic dependence worldwide. We here at Knot Plastic want to emphasize the dangers Jones highlights. This video points directly to the reason we must find a plant-based solution that is cost-effective. Buyers and businesses will always look at and prioritize price points because, at the end of the day, businesses need to make profits in order to be successful. It’s the people, the consumers, who want to find a change that is better for the earth. The supply chain must be willing to be as efficient as possible in looking at ethical alternatives: plant-based packaging that is bio-degradable, easily accessible, and cost-effective.
When those fumes are produced in Asia, they travel right back to the United States: ultimately, we are one planet. By thinking deeply about the changes we can make, we can spread love and make positive change worldwide. Too often, the media’s lens on plastic only focuses on one issue; cleaning up oil spills, rescuing wildlife, protecting one city from fumes by changing the location of production. They make it seem as though you must pick one cause. But at Knot Plastic™️, we want to challenge this narrative, because we have the power to eliminate all of these problems while ensuring our products are just as durable and accessible as plastic. These issues are all interlocked. We don’t have to pick. So why knot?