The Plastic Problem

Plastic is a really big part of our lives ever since it was created in 1907. Plastic is in almost everything we use from plastic parts in cars to get to various locations and the plastic components in our computers that we use on a daily basis. We rely on plastic because of its durability, strength, cheap cost, and because its lightweight. However, plastic is destroying the environment all around us. The oceans have become a large wasteland full of the plastic and trash that we don’t use. All this plastic is really affecting our planet and its animals. But if all of us do things to help, then we can reduce the amount of plastic in the world and its oceans.

Very little of the plastic we use gets recycled. In fact only about 9% of the plastic we consume gets recycled, and the remainder ends up in oceans and landfills. A large amount of plastic in the oceans are really affecting the sea animals. Many, many sea creatures are getting killed because of our wastefulness.  Many sea animals are killed or severely injured by consuming plastic because they think that it is food. A plastic bag in water can easily look like a jellyfish or another form of food for sea creatures. Whales and dolphins,  seagulls, fish, seals and sea lions are the ones getting most affected by plastic. About 100,000 marine animals die from getting stuck and entangled in plastic each year. About 1 million seabirds die from eating plastic a year. As they mistake it for food, they digest it, clogging their stomach causing them to starve. Recently, a pilot whale died, and scientists found that the whale’s stomach was filled with 17 lbs of plastic. These are very sad facts, that you can help from happening. Just by resuing and reducing the amount of plastic you use, you can help to save lives. 

The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t go away. For example, wood and paper produced get composted overtime. But that isn’t the case for plastic. Plastic instead breaks down further and further into smaller pieces called microplastics which can pose to be a bigger threat than regular plastic. Microplastics are much easier to ingest and contains a concentration of harmful chemicals that can block throats. In fact, microplastics can be found floating in the air and can also be ingested by us. To continue, there is a huge amount of plastic floating in between California and Hawaii called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. There is an estimated 1.15 to 2.5 million tons of plastic in this huge garbage patch. In fact, this huge amount of garbage floating around in the ocean is the size of Texas! And this isn’t even all the plastic that we have accumulated in the oceans. There is an estimated 14 billion lbs of plastic in the oceans each year, most of it being non reusable grocery bags, straws, and plastic bottles. By cutting down consumption of plastic items and switching to safer alternatives, we can prevent more plastic from ending up in oceans. 

This is a beautiful planet and we want to keep it like this for our future generations. However, plastic is affecting us in numerous ways, one major one being climate change. Climate change is a huge rising problem that is causing the heating of Earth’s atmosphere which creates extreme weather like droughts, hurricanes, blizzards, and the disappearance of icebergs and glaciers. Plastic releases greenhouse gasses which is the same toxic gas many oil factories release, contributing to climate change. This affects us and will affect future generations. Plastic is becoming a huge problem, and every little thing will contribute to helping the plastic problem. 

There are many items we use in our daily lives that affects our planet. Some examples are:

  • Ziploc bags 
  • Produce bags and Grocery Bags
  • One use condiment wrappers
  • Straws 
  • Saran Wrap 
  • One-use Plastic bottle
  • Plastic Utensils
  • Plastic Gloves

Some better alternatives to these harmful plastic items are: 

  • Biodegradable Ziploc bags
  • use reusable bags
  • buying things in bulk 
  • use paper straws
  • don’t use saran wrap when possible
  • use a reusable water bottle
  • use metal utensils
  • buy good multi use gloves

Try reducing the amount you use of these items, or replace them with reusable or recyclable versions. Then the planet will be greener and fewer marine animals will be put to sleep. And don’t forget to pick up trash or plastic whenever you see someone littering. 

How can you help?

An average family uses 60 plastic bags a week. The average American uses 167 plastic water bottles per year. All these can kill dozens of marine animals and can really hurt the environment. So what can you do? On shopping trips trying taking reusable canvas bags instead of non reusable plastic bags. When  ordering a drink at a restaurant, ask the waiters not to include a straw. Swap out plastic water bottles for reusable water bottles. Recycle all plastic that doesn’t wrap around your finger. You can even be creative and think of your own ways to help save the earth. It is as simple as that. Make a conscious effort to cut down your plastic use and opt for better and safer alternatives. Spread the word so that you can help encourage less plastic. Companies are even making big changes to their products by eliminating plastic. For example, companies like Starbucks are only providing plastic straws upon request. Alaska Airlines doesn’t give out any plastic utensils during the plane ride. Recent laws have been put into place regarding single-use plastics. By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can save dozens of sea animals and make a difference for our environment. Just by making an effort, the effects will be great.

Plastic is a big problem that we face. Everyone takes a part in this “plastic problem” and we all should take a part in helping reduce this plastic problem. There are so many sad things that occur due to plastic manufacturing and waste, since 1907. There are hundreds of different things that we use everyday made from plastic. Some of these are very important and meant for long-term uses, but others are “throw away” and they are the threat to our planet. There are many ways to help, such as not using “throw away” plastic items. The plastic that we use can end up killing many innocent animals, contribute to climate change, and affect future generations. Believe it or not, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills each day, and 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year! This is equivalent to dumping a garbage of plastic every minute. Just think of  the numerous consequences on our planet this creates. So we are urging you all to please reduce your plastic for the better of every living thing on our planet. When we all help, we can make a difference, so let’s start reducing, reusing, and recycling today! 

Sources: 

https://myequa.com/blogs/blog/89626311-facts-about-plastic-bottles

https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/plastic-waste-and-restaurants-lasting-effect)

https://www.asyousow.org/our-work/waste/ocean-plastics?gclid=CjwKCAjwtNf6BRAwEiwAkt6UQlICRfbNSpJZ1sDU9r82Tnq04qiYe6es449JWoTY7HsBvT99Gx4X6BoCiREQAvD_BwE

https://restaurant.org/articles/news/lawmakers-focus-on-single-use-restaurant-packaging

https://pos.toasttab.com/blog/on-the-line/sustainability-in-restaurants-how-to-cut-down-on-single-use-plastics

Image from pexels

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