Plastic is a material we cannot live without. According to https://www.dw.com/en/six-data-visualizations-that-explain-the-plastic-problem/a-36861883, in recent years our usage and production has gone exponentially up. The graph below will show how much this increase really is.
Keep reading to learn how this is damaging the earth, and how to do your part to help solve this problem!
How much plastic is polluting the ocean?
Although it is very hard to tell how much plastic is in the ocean due to micro-plastics and the amount that has sunken to the bottom, many scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year – adding to the estimated 17, 640, 000, 000 pounds already in our oceans.
This plastic being dumped into the oceans is equivalent to a garbage truck full of plastic unloading into the ocean every minute. That figure is only going to increase as plastic production and consumption continue.According to the Ocean Conservancy, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish.
What makes this bad?
The world is currently producing more than 335 million tons of plastic each year, of which a huge amount of which will end up in the oceans.
Although plastic is a useful product, many of these products are created for single-use only, with an estimated 50 percent of plastic used once and thrown away. Not only is this harmful to the environment and the oceans, but it is also harmful to wildlife, where it impacts nearly 700 species in the ocean.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic has been found in more than 60 percent of all seabirds and 100 percent of every sea turtle species.
Ingesting plastic has life-threatening effects on wildlife. This plastic eventually ends up being eaten by humans.
People who live in Britain and also consume fish are at risk of consuming 11,000 fragments of plastic each year, according to a recent Belgian study.
Half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year.
What plastic can be recycled?
Currently, only nine per cent of the world’s plastic is recycled – a problem because most plastics are not biodegradable and typically take more than 400 years to degrade.
And it never fully degrades, rather it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that are eventually ingested by marine life.
Single-use plastics are the worst offenders and include plastic bags, food packaging, and straws.
How can we solve this?
While a complete solution to the plastic problem is most likely years away, small changes can make a big difference.
Choosing to forgo disposable plastic straws, as many restaurants have begun to do, reduces plastic waste and protects wildlife.
Switching to reusable bags when shopping can also make a difference; single-use plastic bags are a large part of the problem.
And knowing the proper way to recycle common plastics is necessary if humans want to keep plastics from the ocean.
The Transportation Issue:
Population and Agriculture:
What is Climate Change?:
FACT SHEET: SINGLE USE PLASTICS
LINKS TO PLASTIC ALTERNATIVES:
For stainless steel straws: https://sandstraw.com
For reusable produce bags: https://www.ecobags.com