The Story of Plastics
Since 1971 when OEC led the charge on the first Bottle Bill in the nation and then enabled curbside recycling with the Opportunity to Recycle Act in 1983, we’ve been invested in reducing waste. Our work continues to focus on how we can reduce the impact of modern society on our environment and our health.
More and more evidence shows the proliferation of microplastics in our environment and bodies, and reporters are pulling back the curtain on how the oil and gas industry used recycling as a strategy to sell more plastic.
Last summer, OPB environment reporters found microplastics in the pristine upper Rogue River and estimated that more than 57 million microplastic fibers rode the current of the Willamette through downtown Portland on the day they sampled.
Some of our favorite fabrics, whether it’s techy workout gear or your fleece winter pullover, can release upwards of 730,000 synthetic particles per wash.
However, we’re also seeing more and more momentum around plastics policy change globally! Oregon passed one of the most protective, comprehensive statewide plastic bag bans in the country in 2019. Unfortunately, a ban on polystyrene food containers failed in the Oregon Senate in the same year, and a bill to reduce plastic straws passed with an amendment preempting local governments from passing more comprehensive plastics policies.
What can you do about plastic pollution?
For starters, there are many ways you can cut plastic from your life or reduce the flow of those microscopic fibers into your wastewater. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- How to reduce microplastics in your laundry from OEC’s Living Green archive
- Tips from FoodPrint on using less plastic and packaging in the kitchen
- 10 fun ways for families to reduce plastic from Nat Geo Kids
But remember, saying no to straws is not enough. Your voice and actions are critical to making the change you want to see in the world! Get educated and speak out about plastics policy in Oregon and beyond. Start by joining Environment Oregon and Surfrider on World Oceans Day (June 8) for a virtual screening of The Story of Plastic and Q&A panel discussion with the film producer and Oregon advocates.
The Story of Plastic brings into focus an alarming, man-made crisis and the heroes who are working every day to rise up against big plastic. After the film, learn more from our panelists about efforts underway here in Oregon to reduce plastics and ways that you can get involved.