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Single-use plastics are synonymous with convenience in a lot of ways. The coffee we need in order to form coherent thoughts comes with a plastic top so we can take sips while we’re on the go, plastic utensils thrown into takeaway bags let us eat our food while in transit (if we so choose), and those semi-opaque white plastic bags assist us in all walks of life, from carrying our groceries to holding our takeout. While these objects have certainly made life (slightly) more convenient for us, they have a devastating effect on our planet and the creatures who call it home. How bad is it? Let’s break it down. Every year, around 300 million tons of plastic materials come into circulation, but 85 percent of it never sees the inside of a recycling bin. And when we don’t recycle, that trash ends up in landfills — but it never stays there. A majority of those plastics end up in our oceans permanently – around 8.8 million tons, to be exact.
Our oceans are more than just large bodies of salt water that make for pretty pictures on our social media feed. They’re home to millions of different animal species and because of plastic, 700 of those species are faced with extinction from pollution, entanglement, and ingestion. When you’re an ocean dweller and your home is literally being infested with plastic, it’s not so easy to adapt. Especially if you’re a sea turtle single-use plastic bags look remarkably similar to jellyfish, one of your sources of food. The Plastic Pollution Coalition posted the photo below, illustrating just how easy it is for plastic to end up in the stomachs of so many unfortunate sea creatures.
In the left jar is a plastic bag. On the right, a jellyfish. Both look far too similar for a hungry sea turtle.
Seeing this photo, it’s really no wonder that an international study from the University of Queensland discovered that 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. The thing is, single use plastics aren’t necessary, nor is it too difficult to cut back on the amount of disposable plastics we use – but it all starts with our personal choices (and a little advanced prep).
If we know that it’s impossible to start our day without a cup of piping hot coffee that’s black as the night, then a reusable to-go cup can help eliminate needless waste. Likewise, by carrying a compact reusable tote in our bag, we can help cut down on the 100 billion single-use plastic bags that make their way to landfills annually. If we all do our part to eliminate the need for single-use plastics in our life, whether it’s little by little or all at once, we can make an amazing difference for the planet and the creatures we share it with.
To learn more, read the articles below:
- 20 Switches to Get Plastic Out of Your Life
- 10 Life Hacks to Help You Cut Plastic Out of the Picture
To find out how you can use your everyday choices to help marine animals, join One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Lead image source: Plastic Pollution Coalition/Facebook