Water bottles, toothbrushes, shampoo bottles, pens, or even laptops and phones are all things we undoubtedly use every day and they all have one thing in common: they are all made of plastic. Plastic is basically everywhere in our society and it almost seems impossible to avoid it. In today’s post we will give you some facts about one of the worlds biggest problems: the plastic pollution.
Written by Lea
No doubt, plastic is a very useful material. It´s lightweight, cheap and durable. Plastic was first introduced in the 1950´s and since then 8.3 billion tons of it were produced. This is almost the weight of about 80000000 blue whales. But have you ever thought about what happened to all this plastic and where all our plastic products might end up?
In fact, every single plastic piece that was ever made still exists on this planet. Why? Because it´s durable and durability means it is not biodegradable. It can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade plastic items (keep in mind that plastic was only introduced about 68 years ago).
You might think now that quite a lot of our plastic is recycled but unfortunately, I have to disappoint you. Only 9% of all plastic items ever produced have been recycled and about 12% have been incinerated. But what about the other 79%? Yeah… they have been dumped in landfills and our environment.
Why should you care?
1. Plastic is made of toxic compounds which can cause not only major harm to the environment and wildlife but are also known to threaten us humans. As said before, a lot of plastic never fully disappears, but it gets smaller and smaller. Tiny plastic pieces (microplastic) are often swallowed by domestic and wild animals (especially fish) as they mistake these pieces for food which results in a risk of global contamination and a threat to human health. Diseases associated with toxic chemicals released from plastic are for example asthma, cancer and heart diseases to just name a few. Furthermore, a lot of microplastic is also found in our tap water. By consuming contaminated food (e.g. fish) or water we automatically risk our lives.
2. More than 1,000,000 seabirds and about 100,000 marine mammals die every year because of plastic waste in our oceans. The intake of plastic by all kind of species can result in starvation, injury, infections as well as suffocation. Currently, in many parts of the ocean are six times more plastic than plankton. By 2050 plastic pollution will outweigh fish in our oceans.
3. Phtalates (softeners) are used in many plastic items. Such chemicals can change the function and information of our genes which can have tremendous effects on our brain or immune system.
What can you do to reduce plastic pollution?
- Use reusable shopping bags (e.g. cloth bags) instead of single use plastic bags
- Use paper/ metal straws or no straws at all instead of disposable straws
- Use reusable water bottles
- Use reusable lunch boxes
- Use a personal to-go mug instead of disposable plastic mugs
- Buy non-packaged veggies & fruits
- Use bamboo toothbrushes/ cotton buds instead the normal plastic ones
- Pick up any plastic you see
You want to know more about plastic pollution? Check out this interactive page by the UN Environment.
Did you know about the plastic waste problem and what are you actually doing to reduce your plastic waste?
Let us know!