Debbie Gibbs: Goodbye to S.O.A.P.?
It was with true regret that I learned that one of my favorite local stores will close its doors in early August — S.O.A.P., which stands for “Save Our Ailing Planet.”
Upon entering S.O.A.P. one was treated to a fragrant array of earth-friendly bath, soap and cleaning items. But better still, the object was for customers to bring in empty plastic containers to refill with earth-friendly products of your choice from the shelves of the shop. Thus, S.O.A.P. helped us avoid the recycling of plastic containers that instead could be reused many more times.
The timing couldn’t be worse in losing the service provided by S.O.A.P. Our plastic waste problem is growing exponentially. An estimated 8 million tons of plastic trash is dumped in the ocean each year. Plastic production and use is killing wildlife, polluting our waterways, and plastic is even found in our bodies according to the journal of Environmental Science and Technology (June 2019).
Most of us dutifully deposit plastic for recycling, but the EPA reports that only 9.1% is actually used in new products. Sadly, we waste precious water cleaning out plastic containers that end up in the garbage anyway. To compound the environmental impact, 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline could be saved by recycling one ton of plastics.
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But most plastic ends up in the ocean, landfills, or is incinerated. The plastic waste that is thrown away into seas every year can kill as many as 1 million sea creatures. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
To make matters worse, the decline in fossil fuel use is causing the petrochemical industry to search for other markets. Between 2004 and 2014, the global production of plastics grew from 225 million tons to 311 million tons. Plastics are a profitable product where significant growth is planned in the next decade.
Finding alternatives to single-use plastic is imperative and the public needs to insist that changes are made very soon. In the meantime, if ever there was a time to repurpose plastic, it is now. It is my hope that a successor will carry on S.O.A.P’s service to our community so we can reuse plastic containers that are capable of living a long, long, time in our homes instead of oceans and landfills.
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