garbage-patch-copyPlastic? It’s not so fantastic. In fact, the same chemical building blocks that make this product so versatile are the very same ones that make plastics stick around for centuries after we’ve used them, often only one time. The entire planet has become littered with plastic – from medical IV bags, to plastic spoons, forks and to-go containers, to cell phone cases and plastic shopping bags. We’ve simply gone overboard with the use of this environmentally damaging and health harming substance. Fortunately – France is doing something about it. They are now the first county to ban all plastic forks, spoons, knives, cups, and plates.

If you want to eat in France now, you’d better be ready to bring your own reusable utensils, or dine at an establishment that uses biodegradable, non plastic items.  A controversial new law implemented in the country bans all plastic cutlery, plastic plates, and plastic cups. Though producers have until the year 2020 to phase out these plastic products and replace them with more eco-friendly, biodegradable ones, many retailers and restaurants have already done the right thing and ditched the plastic.

Pack2Go Europe Secretary General Eamonn Bates told The Associated Press the company is urging the European Union to take legal action against France for violating the European Union’s rules on free movement of goods, but that hasn’t stopped the government from going forward with the ban.

This follows France’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags that went into effect in March of this year.

More countries need to follow France’s lead. We already have a plastic ‘garbage patch’ growing in our oceans that is said to be larger than the state of Texas. This collection of marine debris is also known as the Pacific trash vortex, and it spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. The ‘great’ garbage patch is actually the collected debris from the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California. The plastics in these great accumulations of trash do not break down, they simply become smaller and smaller, eventually finding their way into even the tiniest sea creatures.

Many countries have already made great strides toward reducing the plastic trash that ends up in our oceans.

  • Denmark already offers major tax incentives to retailers who hand out reusable bags. This saves approximately 66 percent of single use paper and plastic bags.
  • Scotland, Ireland and Wales have begun taxing consumers who still use plastic bags.
  • Italy has banned plastic bags that don’t come from biodegradable sources (like hemp.)
  • All stores in Germany have to pay a recycling tax if they provide plastic bags to consumers.
  • In the US 98 cities already have plastic bag bans in place, or are working on them.

If we were all to follow with a further ban on plastic plates, forks, knives, cups, and to-go containers that are not from a biodegradable, environmentally friendly source, then we could start to shrink the garbage patch before more damage is done.

Image credit: www.yalescientific.org