Remember how Bert on Sesame Street had a beloved bottle cap collection? Those were the old-fashioned kind of caps: metal ones from soda bottles with tiny colorful pictures and logos.
Me, I’ve been collecting plastic caps. After our Year of No Garbage (2020) I offered them up on a local online message board and gave them to a craftsperson in the next town over. Now it’s been two more years and this time my sizable collection is going to a local girl scout group, who plans to make a craft project with them… perhaps a mural?
The problem with the ubiquitous plastic bottle cap is manyfold. They’re too small to be run through the machines that process recyclable materials and instead just end up falling through the cracks. On top of this, we’re all coming to realize that plastic really isn’t recyclable: despite everyone’s efforts, 95 percent of plastics still end up in the landfill, the incinerator, or the ocean.
So I’d like to make sure these caps don’t end up any of those places, and a craft project seems like a better alternative. But what would be better still is if we didn’t use plastic in our caps at all. Companies need to consider using alternative, truly recyclable materials such as aluminum. The reason they probably don’t already do this is cost- plastic is the cheapest of all packaging materials.
This is the thing capitalism doesn’t always do so very well: protect people and the environment from the interests of big corporations. The difference between using an aluminum cap and a plastic one might only come down to a fraction of a cent per product, but there are investors to answer to and every penny counts. Legislation could fix this.
And speaking of legislation, tomorrow, former EPA administrator Judith Enck will be testifying before the Senate on the impact of plastic and how to reduce plastic waste. You may recall that Judith is the instructor of the Zoom class offered by Bennington College entitled Beyond Plastics 101. I took this class during our No Garbage year and it was the place I finally started to get some real answers on the topic of plastic recycling and waste. They weren’t good answers, mind you, but they were real answers.
So tomorrow, Thursday, December 15th from 10 AM till noon EST you can watch Judith and three others testify (two of them are from the plastics industry) on livestream. Here is the link to watch:
You can also watch it on Twitter, or on YouTube.
This testimony could represent a crucial step in beginning to address the Plastic Crisis. If you aren’t able to watch, I’d be willing to bet there will be a way to access the testimony after the fact, but if you can, please tune in. After all, who wouldn’t want to watch history in the making?