The Scary Truth About PLASTIC
By Mallory Glenn, Green Raider
Did you know that during the last decade, we have produced more plastic than the amount that was produced throughout the entire 20th century? Statistics show that the typical American throws away nearly 200 lbs. of plastic per year, and 100 lbs. of that plastic is used just one time before it’s thrown away.
Did you know that it takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade, and that plastic isn’t biodegradable, but photodegradable, meaning that it never truly disappears? One million seabirds and 100,000 aquatic mammals are killed each year from plastic pollution; it’s been projected that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. This means that eventually only rich people like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates will be able to afford Red Lobster, and you’re going to have some pretty lame snorkeling trips.
Plastic sucks. And, now that you know a little bit more about how much it sucks, here are some ways you can use less of it.
There’s the obvious ways like only shopping with reusable bags, drinking out of reusable water bottles, and packing lunches in reusable containers like mason jars. If you’re not doing these things already, you should start today. These are quick and easy ways you can reduce your plastic usage. However, if you’re already making these eco-friendly choices and are looking to move forward on your road to green living, here are three less obvious, yet equally important, changes you can make in your life to ensure that your kids can go fishing for bass instead of bottles:
1. Bring your own containers for leftovers at restaurants or for take out
Many restaurants use foamed polystyrene, styrofoam, which is extremely difficult to recycle and therefore not accepted by most recycling programs, including Mount Union’s. By using your own containers, you’re cutting down on styrofoam waste.
2. Use body and face scrubs without microbeads in them.
Microbeads are so small that sewage systems don’t filter them, and they wreak havoc in the oceans. Microbeads are good at transporting phenanthrene, a byproduct of fossil fuel burning, that’s a dangerous ocean pollutant.4 Aquatic animals also mistake the beads for fish eggs, a chief component of their diets, and eat the harmful plastics. This also means that when you eat seafood, you could be eating the plastic microbeads as well.
3. Buy detergent packaged in cardboard boxes instead of plastic containers
Cardboard is easier to recycle than plastic and is biodegradable. You can also clean a plethora of objects (countertops, showers, mirrors, flooring- the list goes on!) with various combinations of vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
You can look online at sites like this one for more detailed information on how to save money and the environment by using these homemade cleaners.
Plastic isn’t going to just disappear on its own. We, as not only responsible global citizens, but also as conscientious consumers, must make choices that reflect our concern for the environment. If you don’t care about snorkeling, Red Lobster, or a healthy Earth, than change your habits for the many people that do.