A Modest Proposal

Littering is a huge issue, especially the littering of plastic. Did you know 9 billion tons of litter end up in the ocean every year? Or that there are 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world-and 6.3 tons of that number are waste alone? Littering is one of the biggest causes of this pollution. Although people do see littering as an issue, most people will have admitted to littering something in the last 5 years when questioned. And although recycling makes a difference, only a small portion of plastic material collected is actually recycled in states like New York. Plastic pollution can also occur in ways you wouldn’t expect. For example, when a car is driven the rubber of the tires grinds against the road, releasing thousands of microplastics into the air and road. 

There has to be something done to change this. Instead of littering, we will recycle our plastic in a different way: by eating it. I know that this sounds crazy, unhealthy or even impossible. But I promise you, after reading this proposal you’ll be hooked on the idea, and will be hungry for a little plastic sandwich. The operation will be carried out and orchestrated by the U.S. government. This means that political parties may have to work together. People opposed to even the idea of recycling/climate will be swayed by the amount of eventual money to be made off of the system. This will influence conservative/right wing politicians to go along with it, creating a government undivided no matter what candidate is in office, working towards the execution of this idea

Now I know you may be thinking, “wont eating plastic kill us”? No, little dumbo. Although the use of plastic material for food is in its infancy (researchers at the University of Edinburgh have begun testing an edible plastic material called vanillin), with a whole lot of government funding these researchers will surely be able to speed up the process of perfecting the product. And they will have a lot of time to do so. We will start slowly with campaigns for the large-scale production of a new type of recycling bin all across America. The recycling bins will be extremely accessible, one on every street corner. Organizations will be told to begin studying where the biggest conglomerates of people are in cities and towns, allowing them to calculate what area would be the best to put a bin, and where a bin will have the highest chance of getting plastic put in it. The bins will also be lined across freeway dividers so that, because people driving on freeways are the biggest litterers, even the percentage of litter from this aspect will be lowered. Workers working for this recycling system will be assigned specific areas and empty the bins daily. The job would pay a lot, so that motivation to do the job is high. This will also influence the public to have the job, increasing the effect and efficiency of the system. 

Over time, about 5-10 years, bins will be so accessible that littering numbers will drop to all time lows. This on its own would help prevent littering if we had a good way to get rid of all of the waste. This is where the eating comes in. 

When the bins are collected, they will be sent to factories where the plastic can be made to look more presentable for eventual consumption and the process of marketing can begin. This will also include plastic collected from years before the system was in place, meaning plastic in landfills. 

Around the 5 year mark, as people are already used to the idea of the plastic bins, the government will slowly also begin to place elements of a new and popular unnamed food product into society and popular culture. These will include the most influential websites, social media sites, television, movies. All they will show is the package of the product without actually describing what it is. This food product will appear to be a regular food. Influential celebrities will be given money to have these plastic-food products in the background of their videos, starting to normalize the idea in the public eye. Talks amongst people about what this product may be will be spreading like wildfire. When they have enough plastic collected they will release the product to the public in a social campaign, and at this point people will be able to recognize the food they’ve seen in popular culture. They will also make sure not to say that it is related to recycling or that it is made out of plastic so people who do not believe in the effect that plastics have on the climate or those who are bothered by the idea of eating plastic will participate in it. At the same time, there would be bigger celebrities or public figures endorsing the eating of these products directly and the companies associated with it. This will get the public to begin to consciously align themselves with the idea. The company wouldn’t be serving plastic food, it would produce “malleable meals”, and they would taste like everything good. The plastic snacks would be properly seasoned, and molded into nice little bite sized and stretchy pieces for eating. “Mmm…delicious” is what people will say. The label will include that the food is made of plastic, but will describe it in terms that are hard to understand, making it so regular people never find out the truth. Slowly but surely, the market for malleable meals will soar as plastic pollution levels drop.

Despite efforts to recycle in other ways, the easiest and most sensible way to get rid of plastic is to eat it. There’s so much excess plastic in the world that eating it will be the only thing to put a dent in the litter we produce, and is all we can do to begin to lower plastic pollution. And at the end of the day, the truth about people is that they will often follow the crowd, and buy something if they think that the rest of society is also doing it. Eventually it will become just another one of those foods with questionable effects you put in your body daily, like potato chips or soda.