environment, save our planet
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The Problem with Plastics

Convenience

Convenience is the word that describes the time that we live in. The less amount of time things take the better. It goes for all aspects of our lives, whether it’s our internet connection, our food, our coffee, traffic, dinner, meetings. We are continuously looking for the fastest way to get things done, and with minimum effort.

With an “app” for just about everything our lives have changed, with a few clicks of a button we can order a pizza, say hi to Mom, pay a couple bills, and order a movie. Now a days there’s no need to get out of our cars at restaurants; we have drive-ins, drive-thrus, order for take-out, delivery. With frozen meals, instant meals, or whatever else, the definition of cooking is changing… Just take it out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave, one minute and thirty seconds and your food is ready to eat!

Photo from an article on the Telegraph website about the use of plastic bags in supermarkets in the U.K.

Photo from an article on the Telegraph website about the use of plastic bags in supermarkets in the U.K.

No longer does our food come from the earth, it comes from the closest Supermarket. Everything comes to us shiny and plastic wrapped, ready to eat.

Plastic plastic plastic. We sure love plastic. Plastic plates, plastic spoons, plastic forks, and plastic knives, plastic cups and plastic bowls, plastic containers, and plastic bottles. Plastic packaging and wrapping and filling.

Just those few sentences were a lot, and those are just words.

Plastic products allow us to live the lives that we do.

These products are created for our convenience. It isn’t convenient to reuse them, that would contradict the point. So how many times are they to be used? In most cases, only one time.

But great! Nobody has to fight over who has to do the dishes!….

photo from http://blog.cuipo.org/los-angeles-bans-plastic-bags-in-supermarkets/ article on Los Angeles' ban on plastic bags in supermarkets

photo from http://blog.cuipo.org/los-angeles-bans-plastic-bags-in-supermarkets/ article on Los Angeles’ ban on plastic bags in supermarkets

In all this hurry that we are in, do we ever stop to think? Do we ever think about what happens next? What happens after we throw our empty water bottles, coffee cups, or take-out containers? No, I would say most people don’t think about it. And why should they? Once their trash hits the can it’s out of sight and out of mind.

Out of sight out of mind.

But just because we don’t see our garbage after we toss it, it doesn’t meant it’s not there. It’s sitting in a landfill or garbage dump, making its way into our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person throws away almost 4.5 pounds of waste into landfills every day.

That is a lot of garbage, and it’s growing more and more by the minute.

So what are the consequence? How do they affect you? And where can you find them?

It is easy to be oblivious to what is happening to our planet when our sight is blocked by Kim Kardashian’s gigantic bum or whatever, and I wish that her problems were the worst of what we have to face. Unfortunately there are far more pressing issues.

Have you ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Well, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean there is a spiralling island of garbage estimated to be the size of the state of Texas. THE STATE OF TEXAS.

There are 5 major ocean gyres worldwide. In the Pacific Ocean, the North Pacific Gyre is home to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a large area that is approximately the size of Texas with debris extending 20 feet (6 meters) down into the water column. It’s estimated that this “plastic island” contains 3.5 million tons of trash and could double in size in the next 5 years.

Ocean Plastic & Sea Turtles, seeturtles.org

Some plastics are toxic. As they float in our lakes and oceans, trying to *break down, chemicals leach out. Is it easy to see why toxic chemicals leaking into our water sources is a problem?

*There are many factors that determine how long it will take any item of plastic to degrade: size, thickness, sunlight exposure. The process can hundreds and hundreds of years.

Here is a chart of the seven different categories of plastics and what they mean:

In the next step these plastics and therefore chemicals make their way into the food chain. When the plastics break up into tiny pieces they are then eaten by marine life. What happens after that? Humans consume those fish or whatever else has ingested those plastics, and the problem them comes full circle.

We are killing our oceans and the creatures living in them. 

Some Facts:

  • According to the NRDC, 80% of trash in our oceans originate on land and the majority of the trash are plastics.
  • Marine life such as fish, sea birds, sea turtles, whales, sharks, you name it, are mistaking our garbage for food, trying to eat them, when they often choke and die.
  • 50% of the plastic we use we use only once.
  • In one United Nations report, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.

If you haven’t given much thought to plastics in your daily life, I hope this post has provoked some thought.

You can make a difference! Be conscious of your daily use of plastics! It is easy to make changes and eliminate one-time use plastics from your life.

1.Purhcase a reusable water bottle. U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone.

2. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store. According to the US EPA, Americans use more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps each year. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce this many bags.

3. If you use disposable plates and eating utensils at home, stop! Yes, doing the dishes is not the most exciting task in the world, but it is for a good cause. 5-10 minutes of your time means a lot to our planet.

4. This is a hard one, but think about the packaged foods and products that you buy and try to make a change as to produce less trash.

5. RECYCLE

6. Spread the word! A huge issue is the lack of knowledge about what is happening. It is easy for this to seem like a problem far away from us but don’t be apart of the “out of sight out of mind” mentality.  It is time to take responsibility for the damage we are doing to our planet. We all live on this planet, and we are all connected. It’s not clear where we expect to live once we destroy this planet because as far as I know we don’t get a second one, and what we do to it, in turn we do to ourselves.

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Beach Garbage | aaryeh

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