Sustainable Missoula: Recycling is not the solution to plastic pollution

By Youpa Stein, a visual artistco-founder of Living Art of Montana, Zero Waste volunteer and manager of the Working Toward Plastic Free in Montana Facebook page, with Jeremy Drake, Community Engagement Manager at Home ReSource.
Originally published in Missoula Current, June 28, 2019.

After I saw a photograph of a mama albatross feeding plastic waste to her chick, I began making myself learn about plastic and became engaged in Missoula’s Zero Waste efforts.

In some ways, the path to Zero Waste seems simple. The lines from a Pete Seeger song give us a road map: “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

But somewhere along the human journey, we lost track of a fundamental truth: Life on our planet requires uncontaminated, healthy, diverse ecosystems. Humans make many products that are harmful to life at every stage of their life cycle. Products such as plastic. It is likely that, like me, you feel some level of disturbance about the toxic consequences of the plastic that have become intertwined with nourishing and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. So what can we do?

We can work together to understand the problem of plastic and build our collective knowledge. And we can work together to share solutions that can empower us to #breakfreefromplastic. In Part 1 of this 2-part article, we will focus on the problems. In Part 2, we will focus on the solutions….Read the entire article at

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