"Plastic is a substance the Earth cannot digest," warns Jeff Bridges in a new video titled "Open Your Eyes." The actor/musician/artist/activist is lending his oaky voice to help raise awareness of the growing global emergency of runaway plastic pollution in the public service announcement, produced by Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC).
In the short video, Bridges asks the question: "When did we become a plastic society?" Worldwide reliance on disposable plastic packaging and utensils is poisoning our bodies, killing wildlife, and overwhelming our planet. Single-use plastic deepens our dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to climate change and further harming our most at-risk communities. These plastic items are made to last virtually forever, and yet are frequently used just once and thrown away.
The worldwide problem of unnecessary plastics was demonstrated perfectly when a Whole Foods grocer in California was called out for selling pre-peeled oranges in plastic deli containers--and at $6 a pound. "Orangegate" quickly spread on social media when PPC re-posted a photo of the oranges, which reached more than 1 million people on Facebook. To their credit, Whole Foods responded within two days by pulling the oranges from their shelves and issuing an apology on Twitter.
Still, consumers can find everything from plastic-wrapped single bananas to individually-wrapped jelly beans on store shelves today. We hope Bridges' message will continue to prompt consumers and retailers to open their eyes and demand reductions in packaging made of plastic this is just going to end up as waste in our waterways, our oceans, our landscapes and landfills.
Bridges spoke to PPC recently about his own growing awareness of the plastic pollution problem:
Plastic Pollution Coalition: What motivates your longstanding support of PPC, including lending your voice to our new video?
Jeff Bridges: My father Lloyd Bridges worked on a TV show called "Sea Hunt." He impressed upon me as a child the importance of taking care of the ocean, and working together to do our part to reduce human pollution. Also, that we are all interconnected and responsible for the oceans around the world.
PPC: What about your own awareness regarding plastic--specifically, when did it begin, and why?
JB: It began with (PPC) turning me onto what a stupid idea plastic drinking water bottles are.
PPC: What changes have you made to reduce your plastic footprint?
JB: Personally, I do my best to drink my water out of metal containers. I use PCC "Rethink" bottles often. My family and I don't purchase plastic water bottles at the store. We have a water filtration system to fill up our bottles.
PPC: On tour with Chris Pelonis and out with the Abiders? On set?
JB: When I'm working, on sets or stages, my contracts specify in the rider that no plastic bottles be used. When I'm playing with my band, we all use metal and non-plastic containers for drinking to be ecologically sensitive and show others that this is the way to go.
PPC: What are three easy first steps you abide by and recommend for someone wanting to start out on the path toward a life with less single-use plastic?
JB: 1.) Get off plastic water bottles; 2.) get into metal or glass bottles; 3.) get a cloth shopping bag.
PPC: Any thoughts or observations that you'd like to share about the issue of plastic pollution, alternatives and solutions?
JB: The way to change the world is through individual responsibility and taking local action in your own community. If everyone around the world did this, it would be the first step in solving the problem.
Note: Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals and organizations working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment. Jeff Bridges is a PPC Notable Member.