Dear Editor,

Kudos to Representative Gary Howell and our state legislators for drafting and passing a momentous eight faceted recycling, solid waste reform bill for our state of Michigan. The U.S.’s plastic recycling rate has dropped from 9.5 percent in 2014 to 6 percent last year. We need to cut our prodigious consumption of single use plastic and keep what we do use out of the environment. Global plastic consumption is expected to double over the next 20 years according to the World Economic Forum. If there’s no change in consumption trends, the group says, “By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean pound for pound than fish.” Today dead sea birds and fish are washing up on ocean shores with their chest cavities filled with plastics. We can’t let this happen to our Great Lakes.

Plastic doesn’t biodegrade over time it just breaks down into ever smaller particles. Today microplastics are found in our air, water and soil, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Mt. Everest to the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana’s Trench (seven miles deep). There are floating inlands of plastic the size of a small state, formed by ocean currents, disintegrating in the sun for years to come.

Today, microplastics are being found in people. We eat, drink and breathe it. Trace amounts of plastic have made it into our food chain. Plastic leeches into our food from packing and beverage containers. A pair of studies unveiled last spring, found microplastic in subjects’ blood and deep in their lungs. Microplastics has also been found in stool samples; but more worrisome is the microplastics found in the placentas of unborn babies. Are our grandchildren being born pre-polluted?

How harmful is this? The answer is we don’t know. Studies have found that plastics contain chemicals that can act as endocrines disrupters, meaning they can affect hormones. In theory microplastics in a body may cause cancer, reproductive disorders, chronic inflammation, autoimmune issues, obesity and neurological impairment in developing fetuses, children and some future politicians. The plastic industry argues that its products are largely inert in the body and are shed in wastes. Isn’t that what they said about asbestos?

I believe we owe our thanks and gratitude to Representative Howell and our state legislators who are working together to keep Pure Michigan pure for future generations.

I believe a coalition of states and provinces bordering the Great Lakes should be formed to collectively protect the lakes from internal and external threats that are sure to come.

After watching this world turn for 84 years, I believe that mankind is the only creature on this planet who willingly fouls its own nest.

— Tom Janicki