Welcome to American Backcountry’s Notes from the Trail. Here we share stories and thoughts from some of our favorite contributors. Each mountain is different and each trip has a different story – these are notes collected along the trail.
Making the Switch – Saying No to Single Use Plastics
May 17, 2019
Throughout our lives, we have heard horror stories about the use of plastic and the negative consequences it has on our planet. It’s dangerous to our animal population, it takes thousands of years to fully break down, and there is a huge chunk of it floating on our ocean! Fortunately, there are so many amazing brands and organizations getting down to the nitty-gritty problem of plastic and their target is set on single-use plastics at the moment.
Single-use, or disposable, plastics are used mainly for food packaging but commonly we see them in the form of straws, grocery bags, take-out containers, candy wrappers, clothing protection, and food storage. In fact, in 2016, the plastic production of the entire world totaled about 335 million tons and almost half of that was single-use plastic. And to make matters worse, around 32% of that found it’s way into the ocean, which is going to start adding up in a very unfortunate way unless we do something about it now.
One amazing step in the right direction is being made by the National Parks Service and the National Parks Conservation Association. They are making moves to set up water refill stations at the parks as well as imposing a tax on all single-use plastic bags in some parts of the country. The National Parks Service has also been a huge supporter of the “Be Straw Free” campaign that is sweeping the nation. Parks such as Zion, Crater Lake, Rocky Mountain, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial have all joined in to support this Campaign as well! While some of these parks are enforcing an “offer first” option at all National Park Services, more and more are skipping straws altogether.
In addition to the National Park Service stepping up to the plate, there are countless brands who are making moves to get rid of single-use plastic, including American Backcountry. Brands like Costa have dedicated their efforts towards making sunglasses out of recycled plastic whereas 5Gyres takes all of their donations and puts into helping research scientists as well as taking people on cleanup expeditions. Even one of the most popular water companies, Evian, is making moves to be use bottles that are 100% recycled plastic in as little as 6 years! Major shoe companies such as Adidas and Nike are even making an effort to incorporate using recycled plastic in their apparel. Another superstar in the anti-plastic game is Patagonia, who has been making apparel out of recycled plastic soda bottles since 1993, that’s almost 30 years of making a difference.
To do our part, we are pleased to introduce our newest Destination Tee Shirt series using REPREVE® ingredient brand in our recycled fiber, in the spirit of sustainable comfort and function. Celebrate America’s Public Lands while protecting them… Recycled plastic bottles become amazing products! In fact, 7 plastic bottles make up one awesomely comfortable American Backcountry tee.
Plastic causes a bevy of problems that are sometimes overlooked. For instance, microplastics are a major concern right now. Less than 5 millimeters in length, these tiny plastic fragments have been washing up on some of the most secluded beaches across the world. Microplastics are made up of everything from exfoliating “microbeads” to small fibers used to make clothing to plastic that has been broken down into tiny pieces over time. Unfortunately, sometimes water treatment facilities can’t filter them out 100% so they end up in our drinking water, in our lakes, rivers, and streams, and in the bellies of wildlife.
When it comes to plastic, every little bit helps and when it comes to the future of eliminating our single-use plastic problem, the Plastic Impact Alliance is working non-stop to make a huge change. Alongside Outdoor Retailer, the outdoor industry’s largest trade show, the Plastic Impact Alliance is enlisting the help of over 150 brands and companies to change the way we produce plastics. Patagonia is one of those brands and they have pledged to have an auditor along with them during the show this year to track and record their use of single-use plastic in hopes of bringing awareness to themselves and others as well as use these numbers to help push them to use even less in the next years.
Although the concept of completely eradicating plastic altogether is a bit of a long-shot right now, with dedication and determination as well as a team effort, we can slowly dissolve our over-production and overuse of harmful plastics. The best way to start is to educate yourself about to truth about single-use plastic and see how you can play your part in making sure our beautiful planet is happy and healthy.