In the ocean, plastic has become a part of the food chain. According to Plastic Oceans, over 8 million tons are dumped into the ocean every year. We’ve all heard the alarming reports of whales consuming over 30 plastic bags or seen the deeply upsetting photos of turtles and birds caught in plastic beer rings. While certainly necessary, mass ocean cleanups just don’t seem to be enough to tackle this problem. So what can be done?
David Katz, Founder and CEO of the Plastic Bank, thinks we need to turn off the tap—that is the plastic tap. In the inspiring TEDTalk below, he outlines how his organization is tackling both environmental and social issues through ‘social plastic’. This root cause solution follows a circular model by ensuring that plastic is used over and over again. This initiative is also reducing poverty by enabling the exchange of plastic for money, supported through an online banking platform. To do this, they provide “consistent, above-market rate for plastic waste, thus incentivizing its collection. Individuals who gather plastic can trade it for money, items or services” according to their website. Katz describes it as Bitcoin for the earth! By revealing the value in plastic, recycling ecosystems are stopping the flow of plastic into our oceans while providing opportunity for the poor. Talk about co-benefits!