Guest Editorial Week of 2/1/2021

Jim Hightower

We’re becoming a planet of plastic

What do your toothbrush and your running shoes have in common? Plastic.
We now live on Planet Plastic, where billions of tons of waste from everyday products made of these chemical contaminants are strewn literally everywhere — on the highest mountaintops, in the deepest seabeds, in dense tropical jungles, and all across barren deserts.
It’s estimated that in less than 30 years, the gross volume of discarded plastic in our oceans will outnumber fish. From grocery carry-out bags to shower curtains to almost invisible bits of microplastics, the vast tonnage of this trash increases every minute, with an afterlife lasting centuries.
This pollution wreaks havoc on ecosystems, destroying species, and infusing our water, air, soil, food… and us.
Consider just two common products — your toothbrush and your sneakers.
Until the 1930s, toothbrushes were made of degradable, natural components. Since then, though, practically all have been throwaway plastic brushes. But there is no “away.” Nearly all of the trillions of brushes we’ve discarded in the past century are still out there somewhere on the land or in our water.
Moving from your teeth to your feet, consider that millions of sneakers are sold in the U.S. each year, advertised as being athletic and “cool.” What’s uncool is that they’re made almost entirely of melded and molded plastics that are practically impossible to recycle. So, after a short time in our closets, sneakers spend an eternity as globs of toxic plastic trash.
We’re being choked by our own synthetic waste, from billions of plastic bottles and cigarette filters to tons of straws and synthetic rubber tires. As the wise old saying puts it, if you find that you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is to quit digging.
To help stop the insanity, contact the group Beyond Plastics at

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by


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