Plastic is everywhere. It has become an institution in the modern world and often seems to go unnoticed in our everyday lives. Look around the room or area you are in. How many items are made from plastic? Are these items single-use or multi use? Where does this plastic go when it is no longer needed?
Some will be recycled (about 8-11%) but most plastic is put into landfill or sold to other countries overseas. If plastic isn’t recycled or disposed of properly a huge majority ends up in our rivers and oceans. Here are some facts that everyone should know about plastic.
10 facts about plastic pollution:
Since the 1950’s 8.3 million tons of plastic has been produced and only 11% of that plastic has been recycled. Resource
According to National Geographic 73% of all beach waste is plastic. Things like plastic bags, bottle caps, food wrappers, cigarette butts that have been discarded or washed up.
Information published in Environmental Pollution suggests that the average person eats 70,000 microplastics each year. That works out to about 100 bits of microplastic in just one meal. But it’s not just from your food, microplastics can be found in man-made fibres in home furnishings which become airbourne when surfaces are moved.
The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and take up to a thousand years to decompose. Other options like a bag for life are no better, they need to used 147 times before they become carbon neutral and will take just as long if not longer to break down. 5Gyres
There is a floating landfill of rubbish in the ocean twice the size of Texas called ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ mostly made up of plastic. This has been growing at an alarming rate since 1970’s and now weighs in at 80,000 tonnes with 9.99% of it made of plastic. GPGP
More than 50% of turtles have consumed plastic and over 100 million sea animals die per year from eating plastic.
At least 2/3 of worlds fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion. When the fish are eaten you are also eating the plastic.
More energy is used to fill, make, transport, refrigerate, recover, recycle or discard the empty bottles. Through the production of oil to make the bottles and carbon dioxide it emits. phys.org
50% of all plastic used is only used once. Plastic Oceans
If plastic consumption increases at its current rate, according to National Geographic, by 2050 there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills.
Here are 10 ways you can reduce your plastic waste:
Refuse single use plastic for example coffee cups, plastic cutlery and straws. Choose re-useable options instead
Buy soap instead of liquid soap… find out more here… Soap or Liquid soap?
Give up chewing gum ( it doesn’t biodegrade and is made from plastic) choose mints or chew mint to freshen your breath.
Avoid snacks/food with excess packaging. Plan ahead, bake or make your own instead of buying it or buy fruit not in plastic packaging.
Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. (One billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year).
Choose a metal razor over plastic. A metal razor will last you a lifetime, all you need is to replace the blades every so often!
Always take re-useable shopping bags whenever you go; in your car, bag or bike.
Avoid products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon. These nasty plastics are hard to recycle and if not properly disposed of break down into microplastics and fibres that are destroying our ecosystem.
Buy locally! Support your local green grocers, butchers etc to avoid less packaging. Take your own containers and bulk buy!
Don’t think that what you’re doing doesn’t make a difference. Do what you can, inspire others and remember we as consumers have the choice to buy or not to buy!