Plastic: The devastating truth and what we can do to reduce our footprint

I am just as guilty as the next person and feel as though I have contributed to the impact of plastic in the world. I have bought plastic water bottles, used plastic bags and take out containers – I had no idea how much destruction these products were causing, until now.

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Our plastic production and consumption have reached an all-time high and it has never been easier for us to realize the impact we have made and learn how we can reduce our footprint.

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Important facts:

  1. In the last 10 years, we have produced more plastic than the CENTURY before that.
  2. Roughly 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. 70% of that debris will sink to the bottom of the ocean.
  3. This year alone, every man, woman, and child will contribute to 300 pounds(136 kilos) of SINGLE-USE PLASTICS.
  4. 80 million tons of waste in the US alone, comes from food packaging.
  5. By 2050, it is expected that the plastic production will triple.
  6. Only a fraction of the plastic created is recycled.
  7.  An estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic are afloat on the ocean’s surface.  Toxins that enter the ocean adhere themselves onto these micro-plastics and are ingested by marine life.
  8. In Europe, it is said that each human has ingested 11,000 microplastics from their seafood last year. Not only was plastic ingested, the toxins adhered to them were as well.
  9. Plastic doesn’t break down, it breaks up, becoming more proliferated.
  10. 80% of the litter along the shorelines of the Great Lakes is plastic. The trash that doesn’t remain on the shoreline or sink, will make it’s way to the ocean.
  11. Nurdles are small plastic pellets about the size of a lentil. Countless billion are used each year to make nearly all our plastic products but many end up washing up on our shores.
  12. Aquatic life are ingesting these nurdles and are no longer able to digest food and eventually die. Those who do not die are eaten by bigger sea creatures, many of them eventually eaten by humans.
  13. Estrogenic activity(EA)  happens when a chemical like BPA and/or phthalates leach from plastic and enter the body, mimicking the hormone, estrogen.
  14. 92.6% of Americans, aged 6 or older, have detectable levels of BPA in their systems. In children aged 6-11, their levels are 2 x higher than the older population
  15. BPA is only one of the many chemicals that contain EA. There are many other chemicals in plastic, stainless steel, styrofoam and colorants that contain EA and could be harmful to your health/health of your children. The release of these chemicals is enhanced whenever heat is applied to them. ie. hot food, sunlight, and beverages

 

Things that aren’t degradable that shocked me:

  • disposable lighters
  • plastic bags
  • parachutes
  • to go coffee cups
  • microbeads in facial scrubs, toothpaste and cosmetics are a large source of micro-plastics
  • single-use coffee pods
  • dryer sheets
  • tea bags

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NOW, WHAT!?

  • Always carry reusable water bottles/ coffee mugs. Preferably glass.
  • Use reusable bags at the grocery stores, stay away from plastic bags.
  • Use aluminum foil rather than saran wrap.
  • Use glass bottles to feed babies, avoid glass with colorants. Be conscious of the products used, as many of them do contain EA.
  • Wash and reuse plastic bags(sandwich bags), if possible, stop using them all together.
  • Avoid all products containing microbeads**
  • NO MORE STRAWS – if you must, use a metal straw.
  • Ask local restaurants/cafe’s to switch to recyclable takeout containers/ to go cups. Avoid styrofoam and plastics. *** more chemicals are released when items are hot.
  • Avoid buying single-use products( yogourt, cheese, coffee pods) and buy items in bigger packaging.
  • Do not use plastic cutlery.

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**** RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE****

THINK REUSABLE – NOT DISPOSABLE

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All pictures above are not mine and were taken from the internet.
The information above was gathered from various resources. If there are any mistakes, please feel free to correct me!
The intent of this post is to educate on the severity of the plastic in our world.

References
Dr. Sylvia Earle – Oceanologist
Plastic ocean – Documentary
Bonnie Monteleone – Marine Researcher

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