Did you know that YOU can help turn off the flow of plastic into our national parks? We offer you 3 ways…
People come from all over the world to visit the U.S. national parks systems. In fact, roughly 300 million a year. Most of them are Americans who love to camp and hike, who love to enjoy the vast natural treasures of state and federal parks and beaches. Yet these places are being overrun and polluted with single-use plastics. This unsightly plastic trash impairs visitors’ experiences, poses a danger to wildlife, and costs Park Services considerable time and expense to collect and haul to landfills.
Right now, U.S. national parks generate about 100 million pounds of waste a year, according to Andrea Walton, a spokesperson for the National Parks Services. At a minimum, 17% of that waste is plastic. Not only are we polluting our most precious national treasures, but we are endangering the ecosystem and harming a regenerative economic engine. Our national parks are a valuable asset: For the $4.1 billion US taxpayers put into the parks, we get back $36 billion in revenue.
But it’s not all about the money. During the pandemic, we witnessed something incredible. A swell of volunteers rose up to keep our parks clean after the U.S. government refused to foot the clean-up bill. Americans love their national parks and thankfully some political leaders also recognize the importance of stemming the flow of plastics and microplastics into our oceans and national parklands.
Right now, eco-minded members of the House and Senate are concerned about the estimated 11 million metric tons of plastics that flow into the ocean each year which is expected to triple by 2040. A major contributor is single-use plastics allowed into and sold by our national parks. In a letter signed by over 300 environmental and environmental justice organizations and businesses, representatives are urging the Biden administration to end single-use plastics in our national parks by reactivating disposable plastic water bottle sale elimination programs, AKA “plastic bottle bans”. The US House and Senate are ALSO considering a new bill to reduce single-use plastics in parks, but the law would lack teeth. Currently, it’s merely a suggestion, rather than a federal mandate. We need to let our representatives know they must act *now* to preserve our parks by instituting a national mandate rather than a state-level plan.
Banning plastic bottles is simply not enough!
“Plastic recycling is largely a fraud. It’s been sold to us as being the answer to all the plastic waste and consumption, but in fact, it really has some fundamental aspects of non-circularity that are going to plague that myth and dream forever.” – Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Basel Action Network, said to Politico.
“The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.”
– Stephen Mather, First Director of the National Parks system.