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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
Journalist
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Do You Really Want A Plastic-Free World?

Plastics are one of our greatest environmental problems. We have all seen the images of marine life entangled with it, or poisoned by it. We have all heard about the huge "waste islands" floating, ghostly, somewhere between America and Asia. But is the current anti-plastic campaign really choosing a good angle? Or would going totally plastic-free be a mistake?

This BBC podcast explores these questions, by interviewing a series of environmentalists, experts and professionals from different sectors. These "heretics", as the anchor calls them, present a number of arguments for a responsible consumption of plastics.

The one that resounded most with me was put forward by a farmer specializing in organic products. According to him, the anti-plastic focus is disastrously distracting us from the real problem: climate change. And not only that, but plastics also save a lot of food from spoiling. Fewer plastics, he says, will mean more food waste.

"If we had a world without plastic, we would use a lot more land, a lot more water and climate change would be accelerating at a faster pace."

Other arguments put forward by different guests include the material's cheap price and efficient production process, which have democratized several products and services, previously not accessible to many. "It's not an inherently evil material", one of the interviewees says, placing the guilt on our own behavior: "There's just too much of it."

The podcast ends with a look at possible technological solutions (such as more advanced and compostable plastics), and an analysis of the recycling system in the UK. If you're not living in Britain, the last 8 minutes may not be that interesting to you, but the rest is universal.

This is a piece that needed to be out there, at a moment when all our focus must be on protecting our common home, and our forces can't be divided. But is a plastic-free world really the solution?

Do You Really Want A Plastic-Free World?
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