On July 13, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-37), introduced a resolution that, if passed, would make July “Plastic Pollution Action Month” in the U.S. In their proposal, policymakers cited serious concern over the plastic pollution crisis that is threatening human and environmental health.
The resolution encourages all individuals and the U.S. as a country to recommit to taking action to reduce plastic pollution, this month and beyond.
For years, Americans have been taught the three R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle—and that as long as we put our plastic items into blue bins, we could protect our environment. The truth is, it’s more like the three B’s—plastic is buried, burned, or borne out to sea. This allows dangerous chemicals to seep into our air, water, and soil and threatens the health of all Americans, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Designating July as Plastic Pollution Action Month brings attention to the urgency of the problem, and we must come together to deliver the solutions to this crisis that our families and our planet deserve.— Senator Merkley
Senator Merkley serves as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works subcommittee overseeing environmental justice and chemical safety. He has been a consistent voice and leader in efforts to combat the plastic pollution crisis, including chairing a series of hearings to examine the impacts of plastics production. In past Congresses, Merkley has led efforts to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act—legislation offering the most comprehensive plan ever introduced in Congress to address the plastic pollution crisis. He originally proposed the Plastic Pollution Action Month resolution during the 2021–2022 legislative session.
As the leader in generating plastic pollution globally, it is time for the U.S. to take serious action to address this crisis. Plastic Pollution Awareness Month is a step forward in raising awareness, but we need even more policymakers to protect their constituents and hold the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries accountable for the mess they have created. Plastics are fueling the climate crisis. Plastic never was, and never will be disposable—and neither are we.— Jackie Nuñez, Advocacy and Engagement Manager, Plastic Pollution Coalition
All plastic is pollution, and it pollutes at all stages of its endless toxic existence. Without urgent action, the crisis will grow. Solutions to plastic pollution exist. The policymakers emphasize in their resolution the importance of reuse and reduction; we should also refill, repair, share, regenerate, and refuse single-use. To achieve the world we need, we must ensure real solutions become widely adopted and systemic—that is, fundamental to the way human societies operate. For solutions to succeed, they must be non-toxic, just, equitable, and accessible to all people, everywhere.
You can help by advocating for strong policies in the U.S. and globally that stop plastic pollution at the source. As the UN works to negotiates a Global Plastics Treaty by the end of 2024, please help urge U.S. leaders to take a stronger stance at the negotiations.