The Truth about Plastics Pollution

Cut to the chase…pick up your sh8t.

Shellenberger has been talking about this for a while.

And his book is enlightening.

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Its amazing how many people blame the government and big business while leaving their lights on, littering, not finishing their meals, leave their car idling,buying .slave made products etc etc. The irony is so thick, they cant even see through it.


I’ve always been of the mind that I’d you think globally you’ll be crushed by inaction. Just clean up your beach, your backyard and use a frigging trash can. The little things do add up though, as in NY we “banned” plastic bags and most folks use reusable bags now.


How can little things with a global population of over 7 billion not add up? Anyone that says that is just making retarded excuses to justify their laziness. Or they are just literally sellfish A holes that dont care.

We wont change much as the average person from the top down. But its absolutely easy to change from the bottom up. Especially as the top sells directly to the bottom usually, we can change the top via market values…its so simple it hurts.

At the very least, close doors with a on, turn shit off when done, stop using disposable shit that is easily replaced by reuasble shit and etc. This should all be pretty easy for a species we consider so intelligent and capable haha

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Idk about this. I’m a supply side guy.

I am too. Manufacturing. I can say with certainty that if something doesnt sell, we stop making it…havent met a company that is any different.


While I agree that it theoretically makes more sense to burn plastic trash than to recycle it, there is no argument at all in that article for “poor” nations needing more plastic.

It’s true that they could theoretically make use of things that are made of plastic - drip irrigation systems, for example. But they’re not being “denied” those things, except possibly by corrupt customs officials who demand bribes to import them.

The vast majority of plastic materials are used for disposable packaging, and poor countries need that stuff like a hole in the head. Not only is the packaging a pain in the ass (it ends up getting burned in stinking heaps by the side of the road, not incinerated cleanly) the contents of the packaging are invariably useless or harmful … or in the case of demonstrably useful things like detergents or milk, would be far better sold in reusable containers. Reason: plastic containers are expensive, particularly when they’re only holding eg., 10 cents worth of detergent.


I think he means they needs more industrialization which in effect will create more plastic.

If only it were that easy. The plastic bag ban is a start — it now costs too much to use one so people use a bag they already have, though I could get into the weeds about how many times you need to use a reusable bag for it to be the same amount of waste to produce as a disposable plastic grocery bag (you need to use an organic cotton tote bag ~10,000 times to offset the waste to produce one plastic bag. Remember supply chains don’t start at the consumer)

The problem with “just picking up trash” is that it isn’t the consumer’s fault necessarily. The term “litter bug” was created by major beverage companies to place the blame on the American consumer when single-use packaging became the norm. The reality is that there would be no litterbugs if the packaging companies didn’t produce wasteful packaging. Before single use packaging, there was no litter problem — your grandparents would not have tossed a beverage bottle from their car onto the side of the road when they could get money for bringing it back to the store!! When farmers tried to sue because their livestock were eating single use packaging and dying (there was single use glass for a while, so we’re taking about cows grazing near roads and eating broken glass), the beverage companies acted like they were great environmentalists who cared about the earth. They started huge campaigns “encouraging” people to recycle more and pick up their trash, making it about consumers being more responsible so that realistic legislation against packaging couldn’t pass. And it didn’t pass. But we still call people litterbugs, just as the packaging industry wanted.

TLDR: Those “don’t litter” campaigns were started by the companies making the litter so that the common person could be blamed for something created by big industry.

Radical environmentalists source: The Origins of Anti-Litter Campaigns – Mother Jones

As for just picking up the trash, I’m sorry but no. We all have our stories about the crazy trash truck people doing crazy stuff with the trash, and that happens right in front of us! Once it’s on the trash truck, do you know where it goes? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that it’s often left uncovered in piles, exposed to the elements and animals looking for food and welcome to fly away into water sources. When I lived in Kinmen, sometimes I’d spend some time picking up the beach with a friend. In 20 minutes we could fill four large trash bags with Chinese and Japanese trash. How much of that was “responsibility” put in trash or recycling cans, only to be dumped in the ocean by the government? We don’t know. But it’s not really our fault because we need to buy food and food comes in packaging and big industry controls that.

I tried doing zero waste for a while. Never “trash jar” level crazy, but I did go through a period of about two years where I didn’t get anything that couldn’t be put into my already-owned reusable containers. I’m still pretty good about not producing large amounts of waste, but it’s actually impossible. You need sugar, flour, spices, salt, etc to prepare a basic meal. We live in the subtropics. You need to prevent your food from being exposed to the elements of they go bad. Your choices are food waste or plastic waste, even if you can find something “package free”.

The other reality is that consumer waste is nothing compared to the fishing industry. The plastic straw ban in Taiwan was hilariously sad to me because plastic straws make up a fraction of ONE percent of plastic waste. Real issue? Fishing nets, which make up about HALF of ALL the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s actually a problem that people run around with their stainless steel straws, because, like litter bugs above, it takes away from legislation on the real problem. You think sea turtles with plastic straws in their noses is sad? Try whales getting caught up in nets and not being able to surface to breathe or go down to hunt. We need a balanced ecosystem and we can’t have sea turtles or whales dying from plastic waste, but whales are a HUGE part of the ocean ecosystem and I don’t see any legislation saving them from recklessly tossed fishing nets.

What can we do? Make sure companies know we’re against the packaging by not buying things in excessive packaging. Don’t buy things we don’t need. Always try to borrow the things we need or buy them second hand. Avoid seafood, if not just for the fishing industry but also cuz fish eat the plastic we’ve dumped in the ocean and we’re eating that.

But please, if you take one thing from my 4 a.m. ranting above, it’s that the responsibility to save the Earth is on the money-making corporations. Turning off the lights, taking shorter showers, and recycling are great, but even if every person on earth did that responsibly, it would make such a tiny difference in comparison to what large corporations are doing to help destroy the earth.


Did you watch the video? I believe the author, and myself, was referring to folks in the US. The messier countries like China, India and The PI have a lot of work to do.

Every developed nation on earth was being paid by China to ship their trash over until China said no 2-3 yes ago. It’s part of the reason shipping container costs went up even before COVID— basically, China sent the US garbage in the form of manufactured goods, the US sent back garbage described as “recycling” for China to “reuse”

Edit: somehow when I watched the video the first time it only showed me the last 30 seconds. Now that I’ve watched it all the way through, I still have some issues with it, namely, that the US does not always manage its trash well. While some cities used to charge for trash collection and not recycling, based on the idea that recycling can generate income while trash costs money to manage, many, many municipalities decided to end recycling programs at the same time that China decided to stop accepting US-imported “recycling”. Even if they still had blue bins, they were commingling trash and recycling, sending it all to the landfills or incinerators.

We go back to my rant above: cleaning up beaches and saving sea turtles is great, but we could also stop the problem in its tracks by blocking corporations from creating the trash in the first place (or requiring them to come up with a way to directly reuse their packaging and having an “end of life” plan for all packaging). I think Americans also forget what packaging is prevalent in places like China and India. Coca-Cola was more successful in infiltrating the CCP than any other entity. If Coca-Cola is unsuccessful in creating plastic waste in the US because too many VCSO girls are making them look bad with their Hydroflasks and #savetheturtles, they have the largest market on earth to sell packaged snacks and beverages to. They will stop at nothing to profit off consumers who think it’s no ones fault but humanity in general that our beaches are full of trash and the sea turtles have plastic straws stuck in their noses.


Just make plastic bags tax higher, like the tax on smoking. In Hawaii tax on smoking is very high thus lower smoking rates. Or maybe just ban plastic bags, went to Amazon Super and they give paper bags (need €) not plastic and seems no one declines the paper bag. I had not been back in States a while, so its bit of shock the amount of waste Americans make, but they have lots of space to get rid of it, most Asia has limited space.

These kinds of “sin” taxes are disproportionally thrust upon the poor. You know that, right?

Shellenberger’s point, via his book, is that country’s “need” plastics as a way to mature their industrial base. In the same way that poorer countries need to burn wood, then coal, then oil and then transition to nuclear and renewables.

While I agree with the sentiment that governments, local, distant and global need to do more, the poor actually could do more of the DIY pickup stuff themselves. Filth is not a prerequisite or a condition of poverty, yet many poor living areas, urban and rural, are dumps. Government can put out more trash cans and pick up more often. People can smack their kids when they throw their small item trash on the ground instead of in a bin. Cleaner neighborhoods, nicer people and all. :idunno:

There is the reality of the origin of the plastic bag: The man who invented it wanted something that lasted longer than a paper bag. His idea was that you bring your own and you could reuse it over and over and over again. Have you ever been out in the rain with purchases that were “environmentally” placed in paper bags? Forever engrained in my mind is when I bought some granola from the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver during a really long layover and the bag was soaked from the rain by the time I’d trekked my way back to the airport via bus > light rail. That might have actually been the turning point for me in my personal war against plastic. It has its uses! That being said,

is something I can’t get behind. The only time you “need” plastic is for food preservation and lightweight, waterproof transportation of goods. Right now, developing country plastic waste comes from junk food packaging, which often comes from American companies. People “lived off the land” but suddenly “you should buy this baby formula in this can with a plastic lid, it’s better than breastfeeding” and “these crackers in this plastic wrapping are healthy for you” with nowhere established for trash disposal. So people tossed everything to the ground because where else does it go? And who benefits? The plastic companies and the corporations pushing junk food on people who can’t afford anything.

Also, “poorer” country do not need to go from wood to coal to oil to nuclear and renewables. The only reason “The West” did was because they were developing as a civilization and discovering the knowledge of how to create power. The knowledge of how to build sustainable power exists now; developing countries do not need to find that on their own. China builds most of the world’s solar panels, yet they choose to burn coal. It’s a matter of greed. We insist on saying things like “it’s not fair to India to make them cut their carbon emissions since the West was able to develop so much in the past two centuries by polluting the Earth.” But The West after two centuries of destroying the planet, has figured it out. We can send billionaires into space without blowing them up but we can’t send the plans on how to build a wind turbine or solar panels to Nigeria? We can send Teslas to Mars but we can’t send them to the China? (which makes no sense, since China makes Teslas)

It infuriates me in Taipei that I have to buy a plastic bag in order to dispose of my trash. For my trash in the US, I reuse grocery bags that were acquired on the rare instance of me forgetting to bring my own bag. Here, even as I ALWAYS have a bag (especially since I do most of my shopping at COSTCO, where they only have the reusable bags available), I end up buying a bag of them for trash disposal. Meanwhile, in the US, since the bags are free, they’ve made them increasingly more flimsy to the point where everything is automatically triple-bagged at the register if you aren’t super fast to make sure they know you don’t want your things in bags.

Once again, the only reason the litter exists is because of the packaging industry. Litter was not a problem before WWII. The reason it looks worse in poor places is because those are the places that are targeted for food that is heavily packaged while simultaneously lacking in any sort of government investment in trash collection. If the city only picks up your trash once a month, where do you think the contents of the bag split open by the raccoons is going to go in the meantime? And once the area looks like crap, how much effort do you want to put in to make it look nice?


Read Shellenberger’s book or watch a few videos of him talking about it and get back to me.

In Germany they charge bottle deposits. When you buy a drink it has about 25 cents added to the cost of the drink. You get it back when you return the bottle for recycling. But I don’t know if they really are recycled finally. PE is fully recyclable yet they are not for some reason.


@nz seems to know what he’s talking about. Surely you have a better rebuttal than “read this book I like”?

The problem with people like Shellenberger is that they’re invariably desk jockeys who have no first-hand experience of the problems they’re talking about, or of the train of events that lead to them.

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Detergent made from petrochemicals? Or, like in the case of Tide, from oleochemicals, mainly palm oil. And that production 'aint no good for the environment either, especially for Malaysia and Indonesia.

It was just an example of stuff that poor people value; stuff that they buy regularly that comes in little plastic sachets. Those sachets end up scattered around the place like confetti or being burned in the street. The point was that they’re basically paying 10 cents for the detergent and 5 cents for the packaging (and then imposing 50 cents of entropy upon the environment). So it keeps them poor, and in the poverty mindset.

You can’t really tell people not to wash their clothes, and in the grand scheme of things there are much bigger problems to worry about.

Palm oil is actually very good for the environment. One hectare of tropical palm oil can replace ten hectares of seed oils, and because it’s a perennial crop it doesn’t cause the massive soil erosion and pollution that’s associated with ‘conventional’ agriculture. The problem with Malaysia and Indonesia growing palm oil basically boils down to the fact that they are corrupt and rapacious, not palm oil per se.

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I am used to seeing these little plastic packets absolutely destroying entire rivers They should be outlawed. One use and then dump in the river. Crazy.

Of course.

Also, of course :slight_smile: Palm oil cash cropping is a real problem too.