Jack Johnson, Plastic Bottles, Recycling and Us (AND VIdeo)

Have some fun with Jack’s little ditty -  offered in support of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, then find out more about those bottles!

The Recycling Myth

Collecting plastics at curbside fosters the belief that, like aluminum and glass, these will be converted into new similar objects. From one glass bottle we can make another glass bottle of similar quality, in an economic manner.  However this is not the case with plastic. The best we can hope for plastics is that these will be turned into other products such as doormats, textiles, plastic lumber, etc.. These products will still end at some point in the landfill – and do NOT stem the need for more virgin petroleum product.  This is NOT recycling, but down-cycling.

But not even this down-cycling is happening.

For instance, in the US 93% of plastics are NOT recovered (put in plastic “recycling” bins). These go straight to landfills. PET bottles that have a redemption value (cash value) fare a bit better: 62% are NOT recovered.  (EPA data 2008)

How big is the problem?  How much waste is generated by single use plastics?  Artist Chris Jordan offers the following visualizations. Imagine 8 football fields covered thickly with plastic bottles: this is  the equivalent to the number of plastic beverage bottles discarded in the US every five minutes (data: 2009)

Now imagine a line of plastic bottles going around the planet five times. This would be equivalent to the number of plastic bottles discarded every week in the US.. just for water!  (data 2009)

Now imagine the waste created by all types of single use plastics put together,  by all the countries in the world (the US is only 5% of the worlds population)… This includes plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic utensils, cups, containers and more.

It is hard to imagine…  We simply need to stop this insane stream of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, toxic waste.

In most parts of the world people struggle to build basic infrastructures such as schools and hospitals, and  advanced waste management systems  are beyond their reach.  As a result, most of the developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa and literally drowning in plastic waste.

Plastic pollution will not be solved by encouraging “recycling”.  Perpetuating the myth of plastic recycling creates a smoke curtain that delays the adoption of effective and sustainable solutions, such as producer responsibility and the phasing out of single-use plastics.

This post first appeared at the site of our content partner the Plastic Pollution Coalition and is the first of many.

by PlasticPollution


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Marina Munoz
Marina Munoz7 years ago

Watch Bag It the movie, GREAT!

Rita Delfing
Rita O7 years ago

I watched a show last night about Paris and they built a 800 Million (I think) plant that actually breaks down plastic so that it can in fact be used over and over again to make plastic bottles. It was interesting not sure how that plays into the future however I was impressed with what I watched. Let me say I have not done further searching on the subject.

Terry G.
Terry G.7 years ago


What if.....the majority of our plastic waste could be downcycled and made into the plastic bags we all love to hate ?


Cristian Prisacariu
Past Member 7 years ago

I totally agree with Anatoli C. The same holds in Norway and still you see a lot of bottled water around... Even in my office are many who use the bottled water though we have tap water right near. They make tea from the tap though :)

Anatoli C.
Anatoli Cepeda7 years ago

Swedish tapwater is cleaner, more healty and tastier than botteled water (not only my opinion but through studies). Still we are buying anourmous ammount of bad water that has been transported from Europe or other parts of Sweden. This needs a stop.

Jessica K.
Jessica K7 years ago

Here's the thing I have with plastic: why are so many organic things packaged with it? Doesn't sound too green to me, imho.

Cindy B.
Cindy B7 years ago

The wasteful use of plastic water bottles and plastic bags create horrible problems the world over. HOW TRAGIC, when the problem could be easily remedied with just a TINY bit of human effort and inconvenience. The global plastics problem is all over the news nowadays. And yet, a huge percentage of people are so pathetically lazy they can't be bothered with reuseable bottles and bags. I see these clueless apes buying great cartons of small plastic bottles of water from places like Costco... WHY?!! I use a PUR faucet-mounted water filter (I don't like the chlorine taste, and I have old pipes); the filter insert costs maybe $18-22 and it filters all contaminants, lead and negative taste from around 600 GALLONS of water -- easy as turning on the tap. And those flimsy plastic bottles leach unhealthy polymers into the water, which may have been sitting in them for months... And to top it off, they aren't even recycled in most instances, tossed instead into the nearest trash receptacle. And of course we're just swimming in reusable bags these days. Every store offers them, and there are faaaaabulous ones in thrift stores for around a buck apiece. And yet, laziness, apathy and ignorance rule the day about 90% of the time. In my opinion the world is doomed. Period. Just one more argument against "Intelligent Design" as it applies to human beings.

gerlinde p.
gerlinde p7 years ago

thanks for the article, prefer glass bottles and bring my own bag

Doug D.
Doug D7 years ago

NO PLASTIC BOTTLES! Costs more to recycle them than to make new ones, so most go into the ocean. Even if you have dogs--use metal if you don't want to use glass!