Single-Use Plastics are Dangerous & Old Fashioned; Time for a New Way of Thinking

We live in a society obsessed with convenience, and that obsession has made plastic king. Though humankind has greatly benefited from plastic, the environmental costs of this reigning polymer may bring about our downfall.  Earth 911

 

I began writing about the dangers of single-use plastics and the damage they inflict on our environment in 2008. At that time, I thought surely once people understood how harmful plastics were they would want to do something.

I WAS WRONG!

To my shock, I found many people who were insulted and angry at the thought of giving up their plastic bags and bottles. 

I thought surely once people understood, the massive numbers of birds, animals, sea creatures of every type that are maimed, killed, that needlessly suffer, that people would want to change … to spread the word.

I WAS WRONG!

We are fast reaching a tipping point where there is more plastic trash and debris than plankton. It is projected that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish! I’m betting it will be sooner than that!

This issue is not like global warming! There is no argument. The evidence is right is front of us. Many believe that the issues surrounding the dumping of plastics in our oceans and in our environment are MORE serious than climate change.

Remember, we are what we leave behind!

As we approach 2018, ask yourself what your legacy will be?

Again from Earth 911:

As any good eco-warrior knows, prevention starts at home. There are a number of ways you can avoid adding to the growing plastic pollution problem.

  • Stop using disposable plastics: The vast majority of the plastic products we encounter on a daily basis are used once and then thrown away. Think about it: grocery bags, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee cup lids — how many times do you use these things more than once? The best thing you can do is to replace these items with reusable versions. Bring your own bags to the store, carry a travel mug to the coffee shop, and stash silverware and a reusable water bottle in your bag.
  • Blacklist products that contain microbeads: Micro-beads are found in beauty products from facial scrubs to toothpaste. Though these tiny plastic beads seem harmless, their size allows them to slip through filters at water-treatment plants and make it to the ocean — where they end up being eaten by fish. Use products that have natural exfoliants, like oatmeal, sugar or salt, instead.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle: If you’re not sure what can go in the bin, check out this handy guide: The Ultimate Plastic Breakdown.
  • Advocate for a bag tax or ban: Encourage your elected officials to join multiple other cities and counties by introducing legislation that would make plastic bag use less worthwhile.
  • Insist manufacturers do better: Write a letter, make a phone call or contact companies via social media compelling your favorite companies to use eco-friendly packaging. If they brush you off, you can hit them where it really hurts and give your money to more-sustainable competitors.

 

Single-Use Plastic Bags & Bottles Destructive to Our Oceans, Our World

There was a time, not that long ago when you would see countless cigarette butts littering the landscape. Then, something happened ever so slowly, the ugly disgusting cigarette butts began disappearing from bars and restaurants, parking lots, sidewalks, beaches, ashtrays in public and private buildings.

People finally got the message that smoking was not cool but was detrimental to health of everyone surrounded by the smoker.

Can the same thing happen with single-use plastic bags and bottles? I think it can … with YOUR help.  Imagine a world without plastic debris and SAY NO TO PLASTICS

MORE PLASTIC FACTS

Thanks to Reusable Bags for these updated facts on plastic bag pollution

Introduced just over 45 years ago, the ugly truth about our plastic bag addiction is that society’s consumption rate is now estimated at well over 500,000,000,000 (that’s 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

  • Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are the main culprit. Once brought into existence to tote your purchases, they’ll accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years.
  • Australians alone consume about 6.9 billion plastic bags each year, that’s 326 per person. According to Australia’s Department of Environment, an estimated 49,600,000 annually end up as litter.
  • In 2001, Ireland used 1.2 billion disposable plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to make that many plastic bags.
  • Four out of five grocery bags in the US are now plastic.
  • In a dramatic move to stem a tide of 60,000 metric tons of plastic bag and plastic utensil waste per year, Taiwan banned both last year.
  • According to the BBC, only 1 in 200 plastic bags in the UK are recycled.
  • According to the WSJ Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S., purchases 1.8 billion bags a year.
  • As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected. Unfortunately, each year in Australia an estimated 50,000,000 plastic bags end up as litter.
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.
  • Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags.
  • Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC one group harvests 30,000 per month.

More & More Reasons to Say No to Plastics

There are more and more reasons to Say No to Plastics. Most single-use plastic bags are used an average of 12 minutes by U.S. consumers, yet their real life span, unless recycled, is many hundreds of years. The plastic trash building up in our oceans is a ticking time bomb.

The statistics below are from a recent Huff Post Green article which asks, “Did you just eat a plastic bag?” For a more complete look view it here.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports the following data on plastic products in the American municipal waste stream for 2008 alone:

1. Plastic Plates and Cups: 780,000 tons were produced, and all 780,000 tons were discarded.
2. Plastic Trash Bags: 930,000 tons were produced, and all 930,000 were discarded.
3. Plastic Bags, Sacks and Wraps: 3,960,000 tons were produced. 9.8% was recovered (390,000). 3,570,000 tons were discarded.
4. “Other” non-durable goods including plastic disposable diapers, footwear and clothing: amounted to 4,810,000 tons produced with all 4,810,000 tons discarded.
5. PET Bottles and Jars: 2,680,000 tons were produced, 27.2 % were recovered (730,000 tons) and 1,950,000 tons were discarded.
6. HDPE (white translucent homopolymer bottles): 750,000 tons were produced, and 29.3 % (220,000 tons) were recovered. 530,000 tons were discarded.
7. “Other Plastic Packaging” including coatings, closures, lids, caps, clam shells, egg cartons, produce baskets, trays, shapes, and loose fill: 3,720,000 tons were produced. 3% (110,000 tons) were recovered, and 3 Million 610 Thousand Tons were discarded.

 

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Death by Plastic Bags & Bottles

The ongoing devastation to the oceans and our environment caused by plastic trash in all its forms continues at an alarming rate.  Our oceans are becoming little more than sewers for the world’s refuge.

Millions of tons of plastic debris and trash are now occupying 5 Gyres in the oceans.  We knew about the Pacific Gyre , twice the size of Texas, only last year did we start hearing about the other four massive Gyres.

It is estimated that there could be hundreds of millions of tons of plastic rubbish floating in the world’s oceans. In Japan alone, it is calculated that 150,000 tons of plastic is washed up on its shores each year.

According to a recent article in  National Geographic News,  44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects. And 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage—animals are known to swallow plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish in mid-ocean, for example—according to a 2008 study in the journal Environmental Research by oceanographer and chemist Charles Moore, of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Plastic hits marine creatures with a double whammy, Moore said. Along with the toxic chemicals released from the breakdown of plastic, animals also take in other chemicals that the plastic has accumulated from outside sources in the water.

“We knew ten years ago that plastic could be a million times more toxic than the seawater itself,” because plastic items tend to accumulate a surface layer of chemicals from seawater, Moore said. “They’re sponges.”

Oprah’s Earth Day shows have been a  powerful means of focusing on this unnecessary man made plastic nightmare.