Retro Environmentalism: Is Plastic the Next Carbon?

By Krista Mahr

- Published on June 17, 2011 by Ecocentric

Back in the day, before Al Gore informed us about a certain inconvenient truth, before we started to calculate our commutes in carbon, and before people in the South Pacific had to start heading for higher land, there were beach clean ups. People walked along the sand — maybe sometimes only on Earth Day, like once-a-year churchgoers — but nonetheless they walked, fishing jellyfish-like plastic bags and cigarette butts out of the surf, and spearing weathered puzzle pieces of Styrofoam coffee cups. We knew it was only a drop in the bucket, but there was a sense that something was being done. For the 10 minutes after we motored off from the beach in puffs of diesel smoke, that little patch of sand was clean.

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