The fair Amanda is a beach walker - experience level PROFESSIONAL. She loves the beach and has visited beaches on five continents. Beaches are her happy place; it has always been so since she was a wee one, it will always be so. Not sure when she had her “aha” moment, not sure where, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that some distant beach visit in the past probably helped spawn the idea of Me Mother Earth.
Recently our fearless leader went on one of her walks and collected, not seashells or driftwood, but bottle caps. Lots and lots of bottle caps. Blue ones and white ones and green ones - like fancy little blobs of color all over that nice sandy beach. Humans can just be the worst. But it set my mind to cooking.
Guess how many bottle caps are in this photo? Come on, take a guess. There are 2,893 plastic bottle caps in that picture. I located this photo on the 4Ocean website and all of this was found within a 3-hour period during one of their shoreline cleanups. Can you even fathom that? Bottle caps are consistently listed in the top five types of plastic litter on beaches and are also in the top five items considered harmful to marine life. Because they are small they are often mistaken for food. Because they are hard they get crunched into smaller pieces that also get mistaken for food or just ingested because if it’s near the water, it ends up in the water and marine species don’t just swim in that stuff, they also ya know, breathe it. These things don’t biodegrade, they just become micro plastics and then nano plastics. Then they end up in sea life and in you (if you eat fish, seaweed or even sea salt...gasp!)
Here is where we can help stop this ongoing beach gross out. Many (not all - so yes, you have to check) recycling facilities will take bottles with caps on. Mine does. So all I have to do is rinse that bottle out, let it dry, and put the lid back on. Easy peasy. This is the luck of the draw because lids are rarely made of the same material as the bottle and it takes a certain type of recycling machinery to sort that out. But if you just chuck that little cap into the recycling - regardless of whether it’s technically recyclable - it just isn’t going to happen. All recycling is mechanically sorted to some degree and lil things are going to just get noped out. Which translates to incinerated or sent to a landfill.
Our real power to make this change is with our shopping dollar. If you’re addicted to soda or beer, buy it in cans. Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely and we have more infrastructure to handle that. Just. Stop. Buying. Products. Packaged. In. Plastic. Because those big companies will keep making plastic packaging as long as consumers keep buying. Bringing your own water bottle is not only ecologically friendly, it's economical too. Filter it, if it’s a taste thing. But as long as you’re buying, those companies aren’t going to change. And like Amanda, we all prefer our beaches plastic free.