Humans like to think of themselves as separate from nature. Even when we are hiking through a mountain, walking barefoot on the grass, or observing birds flitter in the woods, we consider ourselves separate from our surroundings. The reality of the matter, however, is we are very much connected with our environment. Our food choices are causing undue destruction and warming our planet, and our trash is clogging waterways and endangering countless marine species.
In the case of the amount of trash we generate, we are definitely taking strides to minimize our impact by disposing of our waste in the proper bins, using reusable containers and bags, and refusing single-use plastics like straws and coffee cups, but our efforts leave much to be desired. When we look at the shores of our beaches and the areas near landfills, it’s evident that trash may start in our hands, but it ends with animals – especially when it comes to plastic waste.
We produce 300 million tons of plastic every year. Additionally, every year we use 40 billion plastic bottles, 100 billion single-use plastic bags, and 12 million tons of plastic containers – most of which end up in the oceans. And when you think about the fact that only 85 percent of the world’s plastic is NOT recycled, it comes as no surprise that a whopping 8.8 million tons of plastic are washed into the oceans every year.
We’ve already seen several instances where our plastic trash directly affects animals. They accidentally ingest it, it gets unintentionally wedged into all sorts of crooks and crannies, and some animals even use it as a toy or a burrow of sorts.
Just look at this bird, who has stumbled upon this plastic container and appears to be using it as a nest!
When animals are surrounded by plastic in this manner, there is no doubt they are getting a skewed perception of what their habitat should really be like. Is this plastic simply a new part of nature? Can they use it as tools? Can they eat it as food? With no way of warning these animals of the great harm plastic can have on their health, we are setting them up for disaster. And considering the detrimental effects plastic has on our environment, our groundwater, and our ocean, we’re setting ourselves up for disaster as well.
Reducing the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis might seem daunting, but it’s imperative that we realize how important it is for the future of our ecosystem. Luckily for you, One Green Planet is here to help you kick your plastic habit to the curb! To learn how, join our #CrushPlastic campaign.
Image Source: Surfers Against Sewage/Facebook