Houston, we have a plastic problem. And it’s a global one, at that.

For the past few days, I’ve been traveling through Singapore, reportedly one of the cleanest city-states in Southeast Asia. Nearly every public bathroom has a meter on the wall where users can rate how clean they think the bathroom is. Public places seem spotless. Spitting your gum out onto the street is illegal. In the main city center, trash is rarely found on the concrete.

But in stark contrast to my home city of Boulder, Colorado, where paper bags cost 10 cents and all clerks first ask if you want your items in a bag in the first place, plastic is everywhere in Singapore. It’s deeply infused into life ...

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