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Say No To Single-Use Plastics

Plastic pollution is one of the most critical environmental issues these days. It is the accumulation of plastic materials ( like grocery bags, drink bottles, straws, food wrappers, plastic packaging, and microbeads ) in the marine and wild environment that adversely impacts humans and wildlife 1. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes from coastal nations into the oceans 1. This is like setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world 2. The latest studies indicated that microplastics are being eaten by animals 2. These microplastics could negatively impact their lives and human health because they can be stored in the animals’ tissues and cells for months. Scientists believe that the amount of plastic in the ocean might triple by 2050 3. Learn why microplastic pollution prevention matters and the most effective strategies that can be taken by individuals to decrease plastic waste.

Why does this matter?

Interesting statistics and facts:

  • The United States is by far the world’s largest generator of plastic waste—it produced about 42 million metric tons of the waste (46 million U.S. tons) in 2016 4.
  • The U.S. ranks as high as third among coastal nations for contributing litter, illegally dumping trash and other mismanaged waste to it’s shorelines 4.
  • The average American uses and throws away 110 pounds, or roughly 50 kilograms, of single-use plastic every year 5.
  • Only about 8% of plastic gets recycled in the United States 5. Learning how to recycle properly is a key factor in increasing this percentage.
  • Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years 2.
  • Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050 2.

Last year, in partnership with SYSTEMQ, a London-based environmental consulting firm, Pew (Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank) predicted that plastic waste in the marine environment will triple by 2040. Pew suggested the world should act urgently to eliminate plastic use and gain control of trash 6. According to a study in 2015, scientists found many developing nations with poor waste management 6. These nations have reported later improvements in waste management and the construction of infrastructure 6. Asian nations are one of the top five collections of nations that reported more gains. For example, China has reported about a 60% decrease in waste generation and a 51% reduction in inadequately managed waste. These decreases happened due to the rapid construction of incineration plants 6. In 2016, there were more than half of the 3.91 million metric tons of plastics gathered and exported outside the United States  6. There were about 88% of the plastics exported to nations lacking adequate resources to properly manage and process them  6. There were about 1 million metric tons of waste that were estimated by the team; This ended up polluting the marine environment outside the United States  6.

Want to know how plastic is made, watch this:

How does plastic pollution start?

Plastics are made up of fossil fuels that can be over a century old 5. World War II had produced and developed thousands of new plastic products 2. Nowadays, plastic is one of the important things which made the modern age cannot live without it. Plastics revolutionized medicine with life-saving devices, made space travel possible, lightened cars and jets, saved lives with helmets, incubators, and equipment for clean drinking water 2. Unfortunately, some of these plastic products have a long lifespan when they enter the environment and it can persist for more than hundreds of years 5.

“If we don’t get the plastic pollution problem in the ocean under control, we threaten to contaminate the entire marine food web, from phytoplankton to whales. And by the time science catches up to this, perhaps definitively concluding that this is problematic, it will be too late. We will not be able to go back. That massive amount of plastic will be embedded in the ocean’s wildlife essentially forever 7.”

What Can we do?

The best solution to prevent plastic waste from entering rivers and seas is to understand our responsibilities towards our ecosystem 8. Here are some significant steps people can follow to eliminate single-use plastic:

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Carry Reusable Shopping Bags.
  • Drink Your Coffee from a Reusable Cup.
  • Avoid Bottled Water.
  • Steer Clear of Plastic Straws.
  • Shop at a Farmers Market.
  • Swap Out Bottles for Bars.
  • Avoid Buying Clothes Made with Plastic.
  • Compost Food Waste.
  • Stop Smoking — or At Least Use a Refillable Lighter.

Let’s join the Plastic Free July organization to reduce our plastic waste to get clean streets, oceans, and beautiful communities: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ #plasticfreejuly

Are you looking for plastic-free shops? Here are some shops:

https://www.theplasticfreeshop.co.uk/https://lifewithoutplastic.com/

Sources: 

  1. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/nature/kids-vs-plastic/article/pollution-1 
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution 
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastic-pollution-huge-problem-not-too-late-to-fix-it 
  4. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/us-plastic-pollution 
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/climate/single-use-plastic.html?searchResultPosition=2 
  6. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/us-plastic-pollution 
  7. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastic-pollution-huge-problem-not-too-late-to-fix-it 
  8. https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/tips-reduce-plastic/ 
  9. https://ideasforus.org/all-about-microplastics-facts-and-new-research/
  10. https://ideasforus.org/planet-earth-vs-plastic/