We have a serious problem with plastic. This fact is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore considering around 8.8 million tons of plastic gets dumped into the ocean every year and there is currently a mound of plastic and garbage the size of Texas (and growing) floating in the Pacific. It’s easy to hear about this sheer volume of plastic and promptly disassociate your daily actions from it. After all, it’s not YOUR daily water bottle purchase or coffee pod use that’s causing this amount of damage, right? Well, sadly this is the mindset that the majority of the world has so suddenly your single water bottle or coffee pod translates to billions upon billions of disposable plastics!
Although this material is undoubtedly convenient, its durable nature is what makes it such a major environmental problem. Once in the ocean, it can take hundreds of years for a single piece of plastic to break down and when it does, it simply breaks off into smaller and smaller pieces – it never just goes away. With around 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean alone and trillions of bits of microplastic lurking below, it’s no wonder that around 700 marine species are in danger of extinction as a result of plastic interference. These animals are threatened by entanglement, ingestion, and toxin exposure – and if nothing is done to lessen the amount of plastic in the oceans, this problem will only persist and increase.
On a personal level, we can all take action to combat plastic waste, but when the government intervenes and puts policy in place, it can effect enormous positive change. After England imposed a small tax on plastic bags, use dropped by 85 percent. A year after Scotland imposed a similar tax, 650,000 plastic bags were saved from entering landfills. Keep in mind that this is just after implementing a small tax, so consider the potential positive impact that France’s impending BAN on disposable plastics could have.
That’s right, France stepped up and set in place a ban on single-use plastic bags that took effect in summer of 2016 and will go a step further by banning all disposable plates, glasses, and cutlery by 2020!
This might seem like a small action, but in fact, six million tons of nondurable plastics – like utensils and plates – are discarded every year AND around one million disposable plastic cups are trashed every MINUTE. So this single ban could save an enormous amount of waste from ending up in landfills and eventually the oceans.
How YOU Can #CrushPlastic
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.