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The Perils of Plastic Pollution

The “Perils of Plastic Pollution” were forcefully brought home to members of LWVEN on November 17 during a Zoom presentation by Brian Langloss, representing Oeana.Org. He began with a PowerPoint presentation graphically illustrating how plastic pollution has littered our oceans and endangered marine animals, as far away as the remote South Pacific, who mistakenly think plastic products are food.

As an oil-based carbon-producing product, the 400 million tons of plastic produced each year also contributes greatly to global warming. Brian indicated that single-use plastic products, such as straws, stirrers, utensils, and bags are the biggest problem, and recycling solves only 2% of the problem.

Reduction in the use of these and other plastic products is necessary. Oceana has been working on a three- pronged program to reduce plastic use: pressuring legislatures to pass policies to reduce plastic use, creating plastic-free zones (success on some college campuses), and getting companies to offer plastic- free choices to their customers.

Following Brian’s talk, we discussed ways in which LWVEN can work with Oceana and other environmental organizations to reduce plastic waste. Brian suggested starting by working with local municipalities to create plastic-free zones on some municipal properties such as town halls or auditoriums and passing ordinances to that effect. Members shared personal experiences and suggestions.

We also discussed legislation pending in the New York State legislature regarding regulation of plastic production and use. Part of what Oceana is doing is getting legislation adopted. The NYS legislature passed bill S543/A5082, which was signed by the Governor on December 22. This legislation will amend a law thereby preventing hotels from making the small plastic bottles of personal care products available to hotel guests.

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