Seriously don’t take that plastic bag…the next time you make your normal Target run or trip for groceries please think twice about taking that plastic bag. Plastic packaging and bags have become the norm. Most of us don’t even think twice about leaving the store carrying our goods in plastic shopping bags provided to us by the store.
However, I am here to give you a wake up call…plastic is destroying our planet. And before you roll your eyes and shrug it off as, “Well, I am just one person what difference can I really make?” You seriously can make a big difference! Not only can you directly make a difference by aiming to decrease your use of plastic packaging and bags you have the power to influence others, meaning creating a domino effect thus eventually making a HUGE difference! Let’s save our planet, seriously, let’s make small steps toward this by decreasing our plastic consumption.
Some Facts About Plastic Pollution
8.3 Billion Tons of Plastic
Since the 1950s an estimated 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced and only 9% of it has been recycled! So what happens to the other 91%? Landfills and it hurts me to say it…the environment. Our oceans in particular are becoming filled with plastic.
73% of Beach Litter is Plastic
73% of all beach litter is plastic, according to National Geographic. Think about it, if it’s on the beach, where is it going to end up? In the water…
Plastic Bottles are Filling Landfills
1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute! Seriously every single minute…this is unbelievable. It is also predicted this number will increase by another 20% by 2021 if we don’t act. Oh, but you recycle? Yeah, only 7% of those plastic bottles that are recycled are actually turned into new bottles. Seriously.
A Trillion Plastic Bags Used Annually
Between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. That is about 2 million bags every minute. Oh and did you know the average amount of time a single plastic bag is used is only 12 – 15 minutes before being thrown away?! Yeah and of the 300 million tons plastic produced each year about half of this is used only once and then thrown in the trash.
Plastic is Killing Animals
According to the United Nations, ingestion of plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year. Keep in mind these marine animals are the ones found entangled in plastic products or with plastic in their system when an dissected to find cause of death. Meaning this number is likely much much higher!
A plastic bag can kill numerous animals because they take so long to disintegrate. An animal that dies from the bag will decompose and the bag will be released, another animal could harmlessly fall victim and once again eat the same bag. How long does plastic take to disintegrate? Glad you asked! Plastic takes anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years to degrade, so one can argue that every piece of it ever produced, except for what has been incinerated, is still in existence. Wow…
Plastic is Filling the Ocean
Stop, I don’t care if you don’t live on the coast or near an ocean. Your plastic consumption is directly leading to filling our oceans with plastic. Open your eyes, your actions matter.
Some scary statistics about our oceans:
- The #1 man made thing that sailors see in our ocean are plastic bags.
- There are believed to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.
- There are 5 ocean gyres in the world where plastic gathers due to current circulation. These gyres contain millions of pieces of plastic and our wildlife feed in these grounds.
- World wide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day.
- Every year, 6.4 million tons are dumped into the ocean. This is the same as 3,200 kilometers of trucks each loaded with garbage.
- At least two thirds of the world’s fish stocks are suffering from plastic ingestion.
- Ocean acidification is a growing problem
- There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tons.
- Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
- It takes plastic a very long time to breakdown in the ocean. Even then, it continues to break up into smaller and smaller fragments. Pieces from a one-liter bottle can eventually end up on every mile of beach on every continent.
- About 70 percent of debris in the ocean sinks to the bottom. Ecologists and oceanographers have speculated there may be underwater trash heaps beneath the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A racing boat captain first discovered the patch during a yachting race.
- Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food. And when animals ingest plastic, it can cause life-threatening problems, including reduced fitness, nutrient uptake and feeding efficiency—all vital for survival.
- Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.
Honestly, we can all take action today and it’s so damn easy! Here are some very small changes you can make that can have a big impact:
- Stop using plastic shopping bags – This is the easiest tip and will make the biggest difference – Simply invest in some awesome reusable shopping totes and don’t leave home without them! Keep them in your car so they are readily accessible, even if you don’t plan a trip to the store, you never know and they will be there just in case! Oh, and tons of places use these totes as marketing materials so you can likely score some for free!
- Stop buying bottled water/beverage – Invest in reusable water bottles. Almost everywhere you go will have access to filtered water to allow you to refill your bottle.
- Always recycle – I get it, sometimes using plastic bottles or shopping bags is somewhat unavoidable, but do everything in your power to try and ensure these products are recycled. That might mean holding on to your plastic bottle until you find a recycling bin and going out of your way to find a location that recycles plastic bags.
- Opt for other packaging – Meaning, when you go to buy something to drink, opt for an aluminum can or even a glass bottle if it is available. If the store offers you paper or plastic, take the paper. Simple switches like these make a huge difference!
Yes, You are the Problem, but You can be the Solution!
I hear it far too often…people never think they are the problem, but I am here to tell you, yes you, that you are the problem. We all are. However, we can be the solution. Take just one small step today to directly limit your usage of plastic. You will find yourself taking one baby step after another and in no time at all you will be directly part of the solution to decrease plastic consumption and save our planet!
Took a step to decrease your plastic consumption? Tell people about it! Tell us about it!
IBISWorld Bottled Water Manufacturing in Australia, January 20102. West, D. Container Deposits: The Common Sense Approach v2.1, Boomerang Alliance, February 2007
Plastic Pollution, Ecowatch.com, UCSB, Nat Geo, Environmentalhealthnews.org, acs.org.
Ocean Conservancy – https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/