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What we can do about all our plastic

An Indonesian activist from ECOTON (ecological observation and wetland conservation) prepares an installation made with used plastic, including 4,444 bottles.
An Indonesian activist from ECOTON (ecological observation and wetland conservation) prepares an installation made with used plastic, including 4,444 bottles.

Plastic bags at the grocery store. Plastic utensils handed out with to-go orders. Plastic straws in fountain sodas. Plastic phone cases. We use a lot of plastic in our daily lives. But that reliance comes at a cost.

Very little of the plastic produced globally has been recycled. In fact, just 9 percent of virgin plastics made around the world have been repurposed.

1A listener Annie emailed us with this pitch for our listener-suggested series: 

My idea was about standing up to big companies to get them to stop manufacturing all this unnecessary plastic. Return to the beauty of glass and aluminum recycling. … Plastic is a lose-lose for the environment EVEN IF it DOES get recycled and made into a second market. The only advantage is of course for safety in the medical field.

So we put Annie’s questions to the experts. What is the impact of plastic on our environment? And what are individuals, corporations, and governments doing about it?

This is a part of our annual listener-suggested series. Every January, we spend a week producing shows that you, our listeners, pitch to us and vote on.

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