The reason we say kids need to know this math is because the adults are ignoring it.
They're kicking the plastic can down the road.
When young people learn the truth and consequences of plastics, they can demand change like no one else, because the effects are rapidly reshaping their future in ways that are unjust at best.
We encourage teachers/parents (same thing these days) to give their kids an important number:
11 Million Metric Tons.
It's the amount of plastic determined to be entering the world's oceans annually.
per the Pew Research Center, July 23, 2020 Breaking the Plastic Wave
Note: 2,204.62 lbs in a metric ton.
From here, students can use calculators/phones (same thing these days) to tease out how many pounds of plastic enter the world's oceans– from lbs. per year, down to lbs. per second.
At (spoiler) 769 lbs. of plastic entering the ocean every second, we can pick our jaws up off of the floor and wrap our heads around what it means, and what we're supposed to do now.
It is a disservice to all to suggest that in order to solve the plastic pollution crisis we need to get better at recycling. Be better "sorters".
That we need more recycling facilities.
That we need to deploy more contraptions to clean the ocean.
That we should release organisms that can eat up the plastic pollution.
That we should buy more products made from recycled plastic.
That we can replace regular plastic with "compostable bio-plastic".
This is fantasy land thinking.
Have a look at those numbers again.
We're busying ourselves futzing around looking for bandaids to apply to a bursting dam, and pretending we have the luxury of time.
Ever notice how unamused Greta is on the topics of climate and plastics?
It's because she knows.
She's done the math.
In a nutshell, we must stop hooking children on a toxic material that lasts literally forever and is polluting our oceans, fresh water, tap water, soil, air, and food supply.
More to follow on the specifics of why we don't focus on the solutions above.
Until then, let us be clear that we understand that good people working on these approaches are doing their best in the face of a most unprecedented challenge.
And yes, this is an all-hands on deck situation, but there is existential danger in the population believing we can actually solve plastic with science and tech.
The bathtub is overflowing and the room is flooding fast.
Don't get the mop.
Don't search for a bucket.
Don't invent a water remover.
Turn. Off. The. Water.
Side note: The amount of plastic entering the oceans is predicted to triple in the next twenty years. That means 2,307 lbs of plastic entering the oceans per second.
Unthinkable, yet we must think about it and how to stop it, because the giant corporations that mass produce plastic and the oil companies behind them are only pushing onward.
Stay hopeful 🌈