Letter: Fight plastic pollution in honor of Earth Day

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To the Editor:

Many people try to help the earth by taking modest steps such as not using plastic straws and recycling. However, we need to do more. Only 8.5 percent of plastics are effectively recycled; the rest either end up as litter, in big piles of trash that affect the lives of thousands, or they are incinerated, which has harmful effects on human health.

We need to educate ourselves, and what a better time to do so than now with Earth Day so near and with the fact that many of us are staying home because of the pandemic and have time to pay attention to the problem that in the long term could harm us more than this terrible virus: climate change and the damage to the environment.

Some actions seem helpful, but are in fact adding to the problem. An example is when you have something you want to throw away and you re not sure if it's recyclable or not, so you put it in the recycling bin just in case it is. This is called "wishcycling" and actually makes the recycling process less effective. Or when you buy a product that says it's compostable, so you think that means it's biodegradable. These actions, though seem innocent, are actually what make the problem bigger. If a product that s non-recyclable ends up in the wrong bin, the whole process is ruined, and biobased products are just plastics made out of renewable sources such as plants, but it doesn't mean that they are actually composted.

To address this, I encourage everyone to watch a new documentary called "The Story of Plastic," which is a wonderful educational and artistic experience. In this film, we are shown through shocking images the effects of plastic pollution on the environment as well as on society worldwide. I am a student at Bennington College, and was able to get an early viewing of the film, which I highly recommend. The documentary will be streamed on Discovery Channel on April 22, which happens to be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The best way to celebrate is to educate ourselves and encourage the people around us to work for a cleaner environment. Only all of us, together, can really transform modest personal steps into big jumps to save this beautiful planet that we call home.

Gerardo Azpiri Iglesias,

Bennington

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