The U.S. produces the largest amount of plastic and is the worst at recycling it. Governments of over 60 other countries are working to ban single use plastics in the near future, some as soon as 2021. While certain cities like San Diego and D.C. have banned specific containers, the U.S. as a whole has no published goal in mind. There are a handful of states including New York and Hawaii that have legislation in the works to ban all plastic straws. We know that everyone struggles with not using plastic straws, be it the disdain for paper straws or feeling like drinking straight from a cup in a restaurant might not be as clean as you want it to be.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a huge issue but at least it is part of the global conversation and moves are being made to clean it up. There are initiatives being put in place such as the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. Many companies are throwing money at the problem. These initiatives either ensure that the plastics manufactured are properly recycled at the end of their life, or by actively trying to catch plastic before it makes its way into our waterways. We as the consumers can help to keep these companies accountable by only buying from specific companies that are on board. Some of these companies include: Starbucks, Disney, Hyatt, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Royal Caribbean and Marriott. Little by little restaurants, airlines and hotels are making a switch to a "zero plastic" policy, but until the consumers are on board the effects will be minimal.
What can the consumer do: Give up plastic bags, use reusable bags EVERY TIME you shop not just at the grocery store, use them when you go to the mall or target. If you forget your bags, buy new ones, this will help to grow your collection and help you remember. Either take your own reusable straw to the restaurant (including fast food) or if you forget, don't use a straw. You might need to tell the waiter not to bring one because they usually cannot take them back. You also might want to take your own to go container if you typically take home leftovers. Get a good refillable water bottle. Try to find alternatives to plastic packaging, this might mean buying items in bulk from specific stores. Recycle all the time, not just at home. When you are out and about, if there is not an appropriate recycling receptacle, then bring that item home with you to properly recycle.