Tinsel, glitter, children's toys, bagged produce, mail order packages, imitation Christmas trees, ornaments, advent wreaths... think of all the plastic present in our lives, especially at Christmas. During this season of gift giving, parties and family togetherness we increase our waste by 30%! Christmas in America seems to require us to buy more, eat more, to suck up more resources than ever.
At every stage of its life cycle, plastic contributes to climate change. Made of petrochemicals, plastic accounts for 12% of oil and gas production — a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, even when not burned as fuel. Converting fossil fuels into plastic resin dumps even more carbon and pollutants into the atmosphere. Plastic’s carbon footprint continues to expand as raw materials are manufactured into products, shipped all over, and eventually disposed of.
And, if that’s not enough to make you commit to a no-plastic Christmas, the plastic crisis is also intertwined with racial inequalities. Who suffers most from harms associated with plastic production and disposal? Communities with more people of color, both in the U.S. and abroad including: those whose water is contaminated due to fracking and pipeline spills;
- those who live close to refineries and plastic production facilities and suffer from air and water pollution;
- those who buy and use more plastics because they are less expensive than other materials;
- those who ingest greater amounts of microplastics due to the transfer of toxic chemicals from those plastics into their food, water and air; and, at the end of the plastic life cycle
- those who live near landfills and incinerators (79% of the 73 incinerators in the US are located in BIPOC communities).
How much better would the world be if we cut plastic out of Christmas?