NMPIRG Break Free From Plastic Letters-to-the-Editor

Plastic pollution is a modern problem | Taos News

The plastic problem is a modern one. Half of all plastics ever manufactured were made within the last 15 years.

We often don’t think twice when we are handed our food in a plastic to-go container or given our coffee in a Styrofoam cup. When we are done with these items, we simply throw them away. Plastic does not decompose, so it stays in our landfills for hundreds of years. About one third of this plastic waste ends up in our rivers, acequias, and streams or it litters our state’s parks and landscapes, creating danger for wildlife and ourselves.

To reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our environments and landfills, we need to reduce the amount of plastic handed to consumers. That is why the University of New Mexico should sign the Break Free From Plastics Pledge and join schools across the country in breaking up with single use plastics.

Ours and future generations shouldn’t have to pay for the plastic problem when the solution is simple. It’s time for UNM to say goodbye to single use plastic on campus.

Alexa Moore lives in Taos.


The plastic problem shouldn’t be ignored | Taos News

Over 10 million tons of plastics are dumped in our oceans annually. That’s more than a garbage truckload every minute. Plastics have become a major problem for us, and have been polluting our forests, oceans, rivers, and lakes to the point where the water we drink and the seafood we eat is almost guaranteed to have plastic in it.

And yet across America, only just over a quarter of states have created a ban on single-use plastics and foam containers. While the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has reached over 2 million square kilometers and growing, we continue to use single-use plastics every day.

Something that we only use for a few minutes shouldn’t be sitting in landfills, rivers, or oceans for hundreds of years, and in some cases, they will sit there forever and never decompose.

States can do more by passing legislation that creates a ban on these single-use plastics. In Albuquerque, a city-wide ban on plastics was issued, but because of COVID-19, has not been enforced. This has allowed stores to use “reuseable” plastic bags, which people end up throwing away anyway, and they last even longer in nature because they’re more durable.

People can be a part of the solution. Purchasing and using re-usable grocery bags that are not made of plastic is a great way to start, as well as bringing their own reusable straws with them to restaurants.

Jordan Blair lives in Albuquerque.


Plastics create a permanent problem | Taos News

Plastic does not biodegrade, which means every piece of single use plastic we have ever used in our lives still exists somewhere on the planet.
Instead of biodegrading, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, creating microplastics tiny fragments of plastic that are sometimes almost impossible to see. The average person consumes one credit card worth of microplastics every week.
Ninety-one percent of New Mexico’s plastic waste goes into landfills, and less than 1 percent of New Mexico’s plastic ends up actually being recycled each year. This leaves the rest of the plastic polluting our acequias and rivers.
In order to reduce the plastic waste that ends up in our environment, we first need to reduce the amount of plastic being handed to consumers. This is why the University of New Mexico needs to sign the Break Free From Plastics Pledge, joining schools across the country in stepping away from single use plastics.
New Mexico has an abundance of natural resources and beautiful landscapes. We cannot wait for these to diminish or disappear before we take action. We need to stop the pollution of our lands before they are no longer safe for wildlife and us to enjoy.
Brianna LaJeunesse lives in Sandia Park.