I’m doing many things to reduce my carbon footprint:
- Walking or biking instead of driving or taking public transit
- Taking public transit instead of driving
- Eating less beef and chicken
- Eating sustainable seafood
But the one thing I wasn’t doing was using less plastic. And, despite the romanticism of that famous quote from “The Graduate,” humanity’s embrace of plastic is wreaking havoc on the environment.
Why reducing and eliminating plastic is good for the environment
Too much of anything rarely is good for you, and this is especially true of plastic.
Many plastics do not wear down. And since only 7 percent of plastic gets recycled, much of it ends up in the ocean, where it endangers marine life — as many as 700 species.
Aside from the larger floating pieces that have been found in the stomachs of birds and sea turtles, the plastic that breaks down into microplastics has been found in the food web. You may have eaten some microplastic today!
Or perhaps plastic rained down on you.
Plastic pollution by the numbers
There are millions of reasons to reduce and eliminate the use of plastics, among them:
- 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year.
- Scientists have collected up 750,000 bits of plastic in a square kilometer in the ocean.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so large — twice the size of Texas — no one knows how much plastic garbage is there.
- Plastic has been found all over the world, in the deep sea, buried in Arctic ice, and plastic fibres have been found in tap water worldwide.
- 99 percent of the ocean’s plastic is missing, and scientists fear fish are eating it. And if people eat fish….
- In the North Pacific Ocean, there are 6x more plastic bags than plankton.
It’s okay to use more plastic
What? No! That’s a fake subhead. Did you not read anything higher on this page?
IT IS NOT OKAY TO USE MORE PLASTIC.
For fecks sake, plastic has entered the food chain and discovered in tap water worldwide! Are you okay with that?
Remember, plastic doesn’t decompose like other stuff, and tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every day. The sun may break it down into smaller pieces, but it’s all still out there, slowly finding its way back to you.
Do something — anything — to reduce plastic pollution
We’re still in a plastic-centric world, seemingly impossible to escape. But at the end of the day, the choices we make are what matter most, and if we choose to live in a world free of plastic, a world devoted to clean energy, a world devoted to sustainability, our quality of life has nowhere to go but up.
Join me in eliminating as much plastic from your daily life as possible, and be sure to recycle the plastic you can’t avoid using:
- EcoWatch: 10 things we can do about plastic pollution
- Guide to Marine Plastic Pollution (courtesy of Haley Dixon)
And Heather Thomas (not related) recommended the following guides:
- BusyBee Cleaning Service’s page on plastic bag pollution and where to dispose of them
- BottleStore.com’s page on how plastic pollution endangers marine life
The Girl Scout Troop Daisy Scouts discovered this page while pursuing their Eco Learner badges and recommend this fine resource: