Since plastic was first invented in 1907, over 8.3 billion tons has been produced, of which 79% has either wound up in a landfill or the natural environment.
About a third of this plastic are single-use products such as straws, cutlery, and shopping bags. Plastic bags now kill over 1000,000 marine animals a year and the Great Pacific garbage patch has grown past 1.6 million square kilometers.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (a thread) pic.twitter.com/YY1ns7Phkj
— samantha ✰ (@_sammy_wilson_) June 18, 2019
Unfortunately, plastic production on Earth is showing no signs of slowing. According to The Guardian, plastic production is set to skyrocket over the next 10 to 15 years, with over 360 million tons produced in 2018 alone.
One way we can work to decrease the amount of plastic produced is to change how and where we shop. Greenpeace has taken the lead by ranking 20 of America's top supermarket chains in terms of how they're fighting the plastic crisis.
Unfortunately the news hasn't been positive. Across the board, "U.S. supermarkets are failing to adequately address the plastic pollution crisis they are contributing to," Greenpeace said in a statement.
"Grocery retailers across the country sell obscene amounts of products in throwaway plastics every single day, yet none of them are acting with the urgency needed to address the pollution crisis they're causing," Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner David Pinsky said in a statement.
"Not only do these companies have the resources to reimagine their stores with refill and reuse systems, they can use their buying power to pressure consumer goods companies like Nestlé, Coca-Cola, and Unilever to act as well," Pinsky continued. "The question is whether retailers will take responsibility for this mess, and act."
The supermarkets were ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, and the top performer, Aldi, received just a 34.6. Aldi achieved a top score by instituting several initiatives that most others do not: a specific plastic reduction target, a more comprehensive plastic reduction plan, greater transparency, and commitments to implement reuse and refill systems.
Here are the top and bottom 5 supermarkets according to Greenpeace.
4. Trader Joe's
16. Giant Eagle
17. WinCo Foods
Greenpeace doesn't just want to prompt supermarkets into taking action, it believes that's our job as well.
After learning about your local store's record, it asks you to take the scorecard to your supermarket to show the store's ranking to the store manager. Greenpeace also asks you tell the manager that "customers want to see less single-use plastics and more refill and reuse options."
Greenpeace also suggests you take photos of ridiculous single-use plastic packaging and post it on social media at #BreakFreeFromPlastic.
We really need to do something about this NOW!!! Also: can we all just fucking boycott coffee pods? #breakfreefromplastic#nospaceforwastehttps://t.co/PZWLo2hIpy
— E (@AvalosLiz) June 20, 2019
.@Nestle you have created a #plasticmonster, end your reliance on throwaway plastic packaging and immediately phase out single-use plastics across your supply chains. #breakfreefromplastic
— ZairaLu (@ZairaLuVi) June 19, 2019
Everyone should have access to fresh food that is not stored in toxic packaging! No community should be polluted or exposed to toxic chemicals because of cheap packaging. Help us unwrap the myths about the "safety" of food packaging! #UNWRAPPED#breakfreefromplasticpic.twitter.com/AmoCSeIjAQ
— Plastic Pollutes (@PlasticPollutes) June 13, 2019
Even if our local supermarket isn't doing all it can to reduce its plastic footprint, we can all improve by shopping with reusable bags, purchasing loose fruit and vegetables, and shopping at farmers' markets when possible.
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