Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement. Our mission is to end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of our society. We use our deep policy and advocacy expertise to build a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet, and ourselves, from the plastic pollution crisis.
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The plastic pollution crisis that overwhelms our oceans is also a
significant and growing threat to the Earth’s climate. At current
levels, greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten
the ability of the global community to keep global temperature rise below
1.5°C. With the petrochemical and plastic industries planning a massive
expansion in production, the problem is on track to get much worse.
Plastics have become an everyday part of our lives, including the many unintended consequences of plastic production, use, and disposal. Chemicals added to plastics – to make them stronger, more flexible, or UV resistant – have been found to be toxic and have widespread adverse effects on environmental and human health. The production and disposal of plastics is unjustly concentrated near low-income communities and communities of color. To add to this list, and the subject of this webinar, it is clear from the findings of a recent report that plastics are a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate warming.
Plastic pollution and climate change have commonly been treated as two separate issues and sometimes are even seen as competing. Here we present an alternative view that these two issues are fundamentally linked. Primarily, we explore how plastic contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the beginning to the end of its life cycle. Secondly, we show that more extreme weather and floods associated with climate change, will exacerbate the spread of plastic in the natural environment.
The use of plastic is one of the conveniences of modern life, but in recent years microplastic contamination has become an emerging global concern. Microplastics ––plastic particles measuring less than 5mm ––are everywhere ––from the deepest oceans to the air we breathe. Their small size and mass mean they are readily transported by wind and microplastics have been found in the remotest of places on Earth ––including mountainous and polar regions.
The ubiquity of microplastics in the global biosphere raises increasing concerns about their implications for human health. Recent evidence indicates that humans constantly inhale and ingest microplastics; however, whether these contaminants pose a substantial risk to human health is far from understood.
Plastics contain and leach hazardous chemicals, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that threaten human health. An authoritative new report, Plastics, EDCs, & Health, from the Endocrine Society and the IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), presents a summary of international research on the health impacts of EDCs and describes the alarming health effects of widespread contamination from EDCs in plastics.
First-of-its-kind modeling analysis describes actions needed to stop plastic from entering the ocean.
New state and local laws permanently banning plastic bags will attempt to force a habit change among local consumers and retailers. According to Forbes, nearly 350 cities in 25 states now require the use of eco-friendly, reusable cloth and plastic tote bags or old-fashioned paper bags. More municipalities are poised to follow suit in the months ahead.