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7 Dangerous Lies About Plastic

Big Plastic is big money and survives regulatory scrutiny by creating big spin. Here's what you need to know.

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Lie #7: We care about polar bears and recycling.

Coca-Cola is one the world's largest producers of plastic waste. Coke creates cause marketing campaigns with corporate-aligned NGOs like World Wildlife Fund which is working with the Canadian government to to find an area of ice that can withstand climate change to create a sort of polar bear refuge, hoping to save the white bears from drowning because Artic ice is melting.

In total, Coke has pledged $2 million and another $1 million matching funds to consumer donations. What's ironic is that Coke uses a plastic bottle for much of its product's packaging and one-third of the volume of a plastic Coke bottle is what it takes to produce it from oil, and another third is what it takes to transport it to market. That's a lot of fossil fuel burning. Fossil fuel burning that melts polar ice that kills polar bears.

But perhaps the most egregious offense is that Coke vehemently opposes the only program proven to reduce its bottles' impact on the environment: bottle bills. Statistically, for states that have bottle deposits, the recovery rates for recycling are off the charts compared to those that don't. In California, recovery rates top 70 percent for PET bottles.

So what's a citizen to do? Unfortunately, cutting through the spin is a difficult task, but as always, when there is a lot of money to be had, injecting oneself with a healthy does of skepticism about the intentions of chemical companies that manipulate nature for profit is a good start. What's the best solution? Remember this: if you don't consume it in the first place, it can't damage you or the environment.

Avoiding plastics is not just a personal responsibility, it's an environmental mandate and should be as common in our global society as turning off the lights when you leave the room. There is no silver bullet solution to plastic pollution, more like a silver buckshot, but it all starts with you saying two words: "No Plastic."

Stiv Wilson is a freelance journalist and communications and policy director for the 5 Gyres Institute, a global NGO working on plastic and chemical pollution in the world's oceans and watersheds.

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