''It's just one plastic bag!'' - said seven billion people.
Escaping plastic in our daily lives seems impossible. It's everywhere - from your food packaging and drinking bottle to your laptop keyboard and phone case.
While no plastic is good for the environment, the evilest kind of all is the one that's disposable - used just once, then thrown away. As a result, plastic pollution has become a serious issue, even if you live in some clean and plastic-free corner of the world and don't see it.
But this article isn’t about further sensationalization of the issue. The goal is to provide you with the facts, arm you with knowledge, and challenge you to confront your plastic habits rather than ignoring the problem.
Here are 9 facts about plastic pollution that everyone should know:
1. Over 480 billion plastic drinking bottles are sold across the world every year
That's sound 65 bottles a year per person – more than one per week. This is estimated to increase to over 580 billion by 2021, but could easily surpass that unless we slow down and examine our habits.
Remember that there are plenty of alternatives to disposable plastic water bottles – buy a reusable one or, better yet, one made from more sustainable materials.
2. 40% of all plastic produced is packaging
It's the plastic bag you rip open to pour out pasta, the package around your new phone case, and so much more. These make up a large portion of the plastic that gets used day to day.
The plastic that's used for packaging is made to be reused, so it's typically only used once before being discarded. While it’s convenient, it's also extremely harming for nature.
Use your own containers when grocery shopping. If taking your own containers to the shop is too much hassle for you, keep your eyes open for products in plastic-free packaging.
3. Coca-Cola estimates that it produces over 120 billion plastic bottles per year
Every year Coca-Cola produces enough plastic bottles to wrap around the earth nearly 700 (!) times. Fizzy drinks in such amounts have a negative effect both on our health and the environment!
The best option would be to swap Coke for plain water (in your reusable bottle!) If you can't say no to sparkling drinks, you can still help the environment by making these drinks at home with a soda maker and using reusable bottles.
4. Nearly two million single-use plastic bags are dispersed worldwide every minute
In the USA alone, 100 billion plastic grocery bags get used each year. That’s an awful lot of single-use plastic going out into the world, isn't it?
It's easier and more convenient just to grab a disposable bag that to bring your own. As a result, tons of plastic bags are filling up landfills.
Use your reusable bag! That sounds that easy, doesn't it? If you can't remember to bring your reusable bag when you go shopping, get the GENECIE wallet that has a shopping bag hidden inside it. If you don't go shopping without money, you won't forget your reusable bag at home!
5. Plastic takes forever to break down
Seriously. It's even estimated that most of the plastic ever produced still exists in some form – unless it’s been incinerated – and is still polluting the planet. In the meantime, we keep producing more, while none of it’s being gotten rid of.
Just do your best to avoid plastic. Order a drink and remind the bartender that you don't need the plastic straw. Swap your liquid soap for solid soap bars that come in carton packaging. Drink your coffee in instead of taking it to go. Every bit counts!
6. Plastic pollutes all coasts
No matter where in the world, beaches are all being affected by the excessive production and disposal of plastic.
Henderson Island – an uninhabited island in the Pacific – has become the most polluted place on earth. This small island contains around 28 million pieces of debris – items such as toothbrushes, razors, and cigarette lights among the most common culprits.
Whenever you go to the beach, pick up (at least) three pieces of plastic. Then, tell about this game to others - imagine what a difference it would make if everyone would play it!
7. Millions of sea animals die because of plastic every year
Over 90% of seabirds are likely to have plastic in their guts, scientists estimate. Each year, over a million of them die from choking or suffocating - all because of plastic that they accidentally eat. Their habitats are being ruined and made dangerous for them.
And it’s not only birds that are affected:
Over 100,000 marine mammals - turtles, manatees, dolphins, whales, and other sea creatures - die every year from consuming plastic, or encountering with it.
Help cleaning up beaches. As a start, join the ''pick-up-three-pieces-of-plastic'' movement mentioned in the previous point.
8. You are eating and drinking plastic
You thought you're safe, but you're not - our health is affected by plastic pollution, too.
Recent studies of water samples from around the world found that over 80% of drinking water contains microplastics. The USA has in the biggest trouble - 94% of water samples were found to contain pieces of plastic. In Europe, that rate is 70%.
Instead of buying drinking water and producing more plastic, get a simple pitcher-style water filter, and filter your tap water before drinking.
9. Only 9% of all plastic is recycled
Although not all plastic is recyclable, water plastic bottles and many other types of plastic definitely is. Unfortunately, 91% of all the plastic that could be recycled goes to landfills (where it doesn’t decompose quickly at all) or end up in oceans (harming the creatures that live there).
Read this guide to recycling at home, and if you don't recycle - start doing it. Paying attention to things like which-waste-goes-in-which-bin takes some effort at first, but it's well worth trying for the planet, isn't it?
You may think that what you do doesn't matter - you're one, while there are billions of other people. But the truth is, it does matter! By just swapping disposable grocery bags for one textile bag, you can save the planet from 3 kilograms of plastic a year!
Now, are you convinced to try? :)