Updated: Oct 22
Plastic is a valuable material that makes existence of many things possible, things we cannot imagine our lives without. If we look around, we will notice that plastic is present in some form in most things that surround us.
However, our lives have become so comfortable, that we forgot to stay considerate of the fact that such heavy reliance on plastic is bound to lead to an environmental disaster.
According to the nonprofit Plastic Oceans, the world produces almost 300 million tons of plastic each year - half of it, 150 million tons, we only use once. It takes 500 -1,000 years for plastic to biodegrade. Which means that every plastic item ever made still exists!
Here are some important facts about plastic pollution:
More than one million plastic bags are used every minute.
A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
Over 40% of total plastic is used for packaging.
Only nine percent of the plastics ever created have actually been recycled.
According to the Container Recycling Institute, almost 101 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. just in one year (2014).
The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water as there is in the bottle itself.
More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, equivalent to one garbage truck per minute.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located off the coast of California, is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. It is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one. There are five such patches around the world.
Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
China is the world’s biggest plastic waste importer, receiving ten million tons of recycled material per year. The impact on the local environment, as well as the health of workers and their families, is staggering.
Moreover, plastic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), used to harden plastic, is absorbed by the body, primarily during eating food and drinking liquids out of plastic containers and has potential to alter hormones or have other health effects . In the United States, nearly everyone has measurable levels of BPA in their bodies.
Greenpeace is right in saying that big corporations, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Danone, Procter & Gamble, and many others (see the list) are responsible for the largest portion of the worlds #plasticpollution.
But we, as consumers, need to take responsibility for our part in this giant mess, resulting in devastation of the very environment that gives us life.
The hand that buys these products, consumes them and produces the waste, belongs to actual people, like you and I, and we have the power to stop it!
"You cannot escape responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." - Abraham Lincoln
Here is what WE can do TODAY to stop this disaster from completely suffocating our planet:
1. Refuse single-use plastic items. Commit to your decision and it will become your way of life. The trick is to get used to saying "No, thank you" before you are handed a plastic bag or a coffee cup. Pick up some reusable items you can use daily on the go.
- Carry your own tote bag for grocery and other shopping
- Bring reusable cotton mesh bags for fruits and veggies
- Avoid buying veggies and other foods in plastic containers as much as you can
- Bring your own reusable coffee cup
- Bring your own plastic-free lunch box
- Carry your own wooden or stainless steel travel utensils
- Carry your own BPA-free water bottle
2. Reduce plastic waste at home and reuse items as much as possible
- Opt for biodegradable garbage bags and sponges
- Use biodegradable food storage wraps, food huggers and silicone storage bags instead of plastic cling wrap and plastic sandwich bags
- Use glass or stainless steel containers to store food, or take food to go -- this will also help to avoid the contact with BPA chemicals contained in plastic
- Use Swedish cloths to cut down on the use of paper towels and chemical cleaners
- Use refillable hand soap - we love Follain
- Use natural, refillable cleaners - we love Blueland
- Wooden toothbrushes are so en vogue right now
3. Dispose of plastic items properly
- Always recycle and don't forget that plastic bags should be recycled too
4. Spread the word, vote, volunteer and donate
- Encourage your family & friends to follow your example and go plastic-free
- Contact your local elected leaders, urging them to ban plastic bags and other single-use plastic items
- Vote for candidates committed to protecting and improving our environment
- Help clean up our beaches and parks
- Donate to organizations dedicated to cleaning up our environment (we love 4Ocean)
If you think that companies producing eco-friendly products are trying to make money off of you, remember that it doesn't matter. As long as you continue buying these things - and you will - someone will profit. But at least you can take comfort in knowing that your choice to shop for sustainable products will benefit your health and our environment.
The best of luck to you on your plastic-free journey. Together, we can help the planet!