Not a day goes by in our life that we don’t interact with plastic. This material is in objects that many of us cannot go a day without, such as our phones, computers, cars, and contacts. On top of the gadgets and objects that have become daily necessities, plastic has also infiltrated our lives in the form of convenience: water bottles, to-go cups, pre-packaged meals, and more. Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year — and according to a study published in Science, that number is just going to keep growing.
The study found that in 2010, we produced 275 million metric tonnes (or 303 million tons) of plastic waste. But according to study co-author Dr. Chris Wilcox, “about every 11 years the amount of plastic produced doubles.” Unfortunately, about 78 percent of the plastic we produce is not recycled. It is sent to landfills and from there, it ends up in our oceans. At the moment, our plastic habit has a devastating impact on marine ecosystems, with over 700 marine species at risk of extinction due to entanglement, pollution, or ingestion. It’s estimated that about 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year — and sadly, plastic does not go away.
If this study is right, it means that the amount of plastic entering the ocean each year is only going to grow. According to Dr. Wilcox, “to put that in other words, between now and 2028 we will produce as much plastic as we produced [from the 1950s] until now.”
While it might feel like there is no escape from impending plastic doom, by making simple switches in our lives, we can help be part of the solution. Put pressure on your state or local government to enact a tax or ban on plastic bags and other forms of single-use plastics. Before you purchase something packaged in plastic, consider whether or not it is something you need or if it is just an impulse buy. Opt for reusable water bottles and coffee mugs rather than single-use and always remember to carry a reusable shopping tote with you. By making these small changes and encouraging others to do the same, we can reduce our impact on the planet and the creatures we share it with.
To learn more about how you can reduce your plastic consumption, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
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