A Call To End Plastic Pollution
An Earth Day Conversation Long Over Due!
Plastic products that we use once and then discard are a critical and growing problem around the globe. We’ve all contributed to what has turned into one of the most important environmental problems in our generation, and it impacts the planet as well as our personal health and wellbeing. This Earth Day, April 22, 2018, is focused on ending plastic pollution by Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020.
It’s no secret that plastic has made our lives so much more convenient; it’s used in almost everything. It helps us carry purchases from the store, keeps us dry in the rain, stores things easily and securely, and helps keep perishable food fresh. You’ll even find plastic in furniture, construction materials, cars, appliances, electronics, and countless other things we all use every day. Why have the last 100 years after the breakthrough of this technology been so detrimental to our planet?
Plastics are such a significant issue for three reasons: they’re produced through the refining of oil and natural gas, they aren’t biodegradable, and we don’t have a solution for properly discarding them.
- 9.1 billion tons of plastic has been produced to date.
- 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste has been generated.
- Only 9% of that waste has been recycled.
- 12% of that waste has been incinerated.
- That leaves 79% that’s accumulated in landfills or the environment.
- If trends continue, 13.2 billion tons will enter landfills or the environment by 2050.
- The main reason for the increase in plastic waste is the increase in packaging, which accounts for about 54% of plastics thrown away.
Not only is plastic pollution an issue for the wellbeing of our environment, but it’s now regarded as a hazard to public health and the human body. The chemicals leached into our food and drinks from plastic storage are linked to abnormalities in our chromosomal, reproductive, brain, neurological, and cardiovascular systems, as well as cancer, diabetes, early puberty, obesity, and resistance to chemotherapy. On top of this, many plastics contain phthalates and BPA, which disturb our hormone balance, reproductive systems, and early childhood development.
What We Can Do
Recycling plastic is important, but since many plastics can’t be efficiently recycled and will just end up in a landfill anyway, it’s not nearly enough to cut down our plastic-waste footprint. The most effective way we can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up suffocating our planet is by not purchasing it in the first place.
- Ask yourself whether or not you really need to use a plastic straw to drink your glass of water. Ask the waiter at the restaurant not to bring you one, and instead simply drink from the glass. If you need to use a straw, purchasing a reusable metal one and keeping it with you is another plastic-free option.
- It’s easy to skip the plastic bags at the grocery store, which accumulate quickly in our trash cans. Carry your items out if you only have a few, or put them straight from the cart into your vehicle. If you need a bag, using a reusable canvas one is a simple switch. You can also find cloth bags for fresh produce to decrease your waste even more!
- Take your time when selecting products and notice the ones that don’t come in plastic packaging. Switch to support companies who are doing their part to make sure they aren’t wrapping their products in excessive plastic and packaging.
- When you go clothes shopping, try to avoid fabrics with plastic microfibers such as nylon and polyester. To even more significantly reduce your waste, shop second-hand!
- Don’t throw anything away until you’re sure it’s no longer useful. Get creative when reusing items that might otherwise be thrown away after one use, such as using containers from restaurants to store food, refilling your water bottle instead of grabbing another plastic one, or using old clothes that would have been thrown away as dish/garage rags. This is a great option to not only cut down on your waste, but to keep a few extra dollars in your pocket!
- To help remove the plastic that is currently in our environment, you can spend time cleaning up litter in your local community, support organizations that are researching ways to remove plastics from our oceans, and purchase innovative products created from plastic items recovered from the environment.
Plastic Pollution Toolkit: http://www.earthday.org/wp-
Pledge To End Plastic Pollution: https://www.earthday.org/stop-
Watch What Plastics Do To Our Oceans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?