In this Golden Age of cannabis use, we have infusions, concentrates, endless strains, and so much more that we can consume on a medical and recreational level. This is great for so many reasons; however there is a major factor that tends to be completely ignored: PLASTIC.
Here in North America we’re fortunate enough to have relatively great waste management procedures, but that’s far from meaning our plastics and recyclables truly disappear or get reused. In fact, about 91% of our recyclables don’t get recycled, according to National Geographic.
Clearly, the main culprits are the manufacturers of products like single-use vape cartridges, bud containers, the plastic wrap that comes on every new pen, scale, and so on. It sucks but currently by law, in California, all weed has to be sold in child-proof containers with lab test information on the labels (Is every dispensary doing this? That’s another story). Then there are also farmers who aren’t always aware that some of their by-products are compostable, reusable, and/or recyclable.
It’s hard to put in perspective how much plastic is ruining our oceans without seeing photos and videos, but the reality is 1.5 million sea creatures die annually from our plastic, according to a 2015 study from University of California, Santa Barbara. The reason this problem needs to be considered and acted on immediately is because it directly goes against all the other positives that cannabis provides: it reduces excellent way to save trees as a better paper source; smarter fuel alternative; one of the best alternative medicines on the planet.
We can opt for re-suable products and always seek out the most eco-friendly stuff at head shops and dispensaries. There are also the places that encourage bringing in old canisters so they can use them again – this is the next best thing but really glass is the best immediate option (for any dispensary employees reading this). It’s literally insane to keep using plastic in such a trivial manner. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a terrible way to think about this epidemic for which we’re collectively responsible.
I’m aware that this may sound zealous and preachy, and I’m also fully aware that many people in the cannabis community are environmentally conscious and have heard all of this before. However, I don’t see this issue being discussed in regards to the retail side of medical and recreational weed anywhere. So, consider this an open letter to farmers and manufacturers about being proactive in cultivation and manufacturing processes. Our technology and resources are too advanced to continue current practices.
I encourage everyone who frequents dispensaries to ask the staff to reach out to their main suppliers about this issue. Even from the computer, tablet, or smartphone that you’re using to read this, you can send emails to your favorite companies and help them be accountable. Thinking about the bigger picture, getting manufacturers to take initiative with sustainable practices also helps the medical and recreational cannabis movement more legitimate to the many people who still don’t quite get it yet.