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The Overflowing-Bathtub Analogy is Incomplete

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Many people have used the overflowing-bathtub analogy to dismiss the need to clean-up plastic pollution, or pollution in general. It goes something like this:

If your bathtub is overflowing, you don't start by mopping-up the water, you turn it off first.

This analogy is incomplete, particularly in reference to plastic pollution, because there is no valve on this bathtub. It's as if the valve has broken off and the water or other detrimental substance is gushing forth at an astonishing rate. It's not a clean break that can be easily plugged either--the valve has been shorn off and the pipe is cracked deep beneath the tub deck. You'd have a major water problem in your house.

But for this detrimental substance neither are there readily-available tools to stop it. You won't find them at a hardware store. You won't find the tools to stop it online. For plastic pollution it's more like the valve has not even been invented. Some people may be trying to invent a valve, but they're way behind the damage being caused to your house right now. This is where we are with plastic pollution. Even if all the world's governments agreed to ban disposable plastic tomorrow, it would still be years until the flow would end. Meanwhile, so much of this detrimental substance has overflowed that it's threatening the structural integrity of your house. It MUST be cleaned-up, and fast, before the very walls collapse--the walls of food- and water-security. This is where we are with plastic pollution. You should wish it was really just your bathtub.


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