1. What, to you, is the most pressing environmental problem?
Systemic dysfunction. We have economic systems that externalise costs that the producers don't want to deal with, historically environmental and social costs, specifically. We need to fix the broken outlook and systems derived from it that have caused anthropogenic climate change.
2. Are you alarmed by the proliferation of plastic in the environment?
Wholeheartedly, yes. In my view, it's a plague. The only way to remove it from the biosphere after it's there as microplastics, so far as I can figure, is to gather up biomass and sand filters used to accumulate it, along with straining it from the oceans and gathering it in whatever matter possible, and to incinerate it in an oxygen-free retort at high enough temperatures that the plastics break back down into their constituent parts, rather than creating things like dioxins at lower temperatures.
3. Do you take any actions to reduce your use of plastic?
3b. If so, what?
It's mostly personal choices. I find shopping solutions that cut the amount of packaging I pay for. Bulk food stores that let you bring reusable containers are my go-to for everything they sell, and mason jars of every size are suitable for everything from spices to grains and beans, to pasta. We have eschewed plastic sponges and scrubbers for cloth and paper-based compostable cloths, as an example. Most of our food containers are glass. Some still have plastic lids, but when those crack, I get the glass-and-silicone-seal ones, and I don't buy plastic containers any more. Silicone and wood replaces many kitchen things, and glass and metal has always been there.
4. Do you support government mandated plastic bans?
Absolutely. It's like petroleum, unsurprisingly. It's a cheap, easy solution if the environmental and social costs are ignored, so the government must be made to apply those costs to those seeking to profit off pollution and people's suffering.
5. Has anyone here nearly eliminated their use of plastic, and if so, what is the most challenging aspect to get rid of?
That's a long road. I mean, if you take it seriously and do everything everyone here advocates, we still have PEX piping in some structures, and other ubiquitous plastic bits everywhere, as insulation around every wire in our houses and devices, everywhere. I think the most challenging part is that. The least, then, should be our focus for the initiate.
6. Do you think reusables are too dangerous in the time of coronavirus?
Before plastic, they had reusables, but they were designed to be subjected to an autoclave with some frequency. Trying to reuse materials not designed for it could be hazardous, but not even things like cloth masks would be dangerous, when washed properly with soap and allowed to dry fully.
7.Do you agree that efforts to reduce waste should be suspended or cancelled in light of the pandemic?
No. I don't think that's at all reasonable, or even logical. A pilot doesn't stop piloting because there's a small cabin fire. They direct the crew not flying the plane to put the fire out and handle the momentary emergency. This allows the pilot to keep the plane from plowing into mountains.
Thanks for this, Katerina. I love getting people's views on these things. Most of the time, it's as I would guess, but every once in a while, you get surprised.