Letters to the Editor

Drastic plastic

To the Editor:

We all want to be good stewards of the environment, so it makes sense that we have a robust recycling program here in Swarthmore. However, I can’t help but feel that the act of recycling has given us the illusion that what we consume doesn’t impact the environment as long as it’s recyclable. I would like to challenge that notion. 

Here are some facts about plastic consumption, according to Plastics Ocean Foundation:

• Annually, around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide.

• More than one million bags are used every minute.

• A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.

• Over the last 10 years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.

• Beverage containers account for 14% of all litter. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher.

“Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans, and that figure could increase by ten- fold over the next 10 years if actions are not taken according to a study published in the journal Science.” Time magazine, February 12, 2015

Previously, the US had been exporting plastic recycling to China for processing. As of January 1, 2018, however, China has banned the import of foreign waste. As a result, recycling costs to the borough of Swarthmore will increase from $1,667.02 to nearly $30,000 in 2019. 

I believe that this is an opportunity to reflect upon and reevaluate our relationship to plastics. And I’d like to challenge you to join me in making a serious commitment to reducing our use of plastics. 

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store and farmers market — I keep one in my purse, and a few in my car at all times, just in case. When possible, avoid pre-packaged produce. Buy in bulk, using cotton bags with their weight already printed. Say no to plastic water bottles, and start carrying a refillable one around with you. Our own Swarthmore Co-Op has taken a leadership role by eliminating the use of plastic bags at the checkout and offering loose produce and bulk items.

It takes time and effort to change our routines, but our planet and our children and their children are worth it. We need sensible plastic legislation, but we don’t have to wait for it to begin to make a difference. Please, for the sake of our planet, won’t you join me?

If you would like more information with regards to recycling bags, or want to discuss further how we can encourage people to use less plastic, please contact me at Claudia@cuetokearney.com.

Claudia Cueto
Swarthmore

Powerless over nature

To the Editor:

People are fond of commenting on President Trump’s neglect of scientific information and the warning that knowledge provides, but we should recognize that the President represents the primary characteristic of our species — our imagination. This imagination has altered our local environments and allowed us to establish ourselves where it is too cold, too hot, too wet, or too dry. In addition to this, without feathers or fins we can fly around the world and swim across the seas. This ability has given many of us — including the President — a false confidence about our power over Mother Nature. At the end of this human journey our descendants will discover who the Master will be.

John Brodsky
Swarthmore

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