Fact – Every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists today…
The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Once again you have snoozed for a bit too long so you are in a mad frenzy to get ready for work.
No time for breakfast today! Instead you pass your local barista on the way to work.
“The usual? Large caramel latte with soy milk for our favourite vegan coming right up!”
At this point life is bliss. You continue the walk to work, clutching the take away coffee in your cold fingers. Passing through the doors of the office, you throw the empty cup in the recycling bin, confident in your good deed. Life continues as normal…
The issue – Disposable Plastic
That disposable coffee cup (your first for the day maybe) has some pretty scary consequences. Not just for you, but the environment as well.
- 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year
- 50% of that is only used once then thrown away
- 8 million tons alone enters the ocean every year
- 14% of all litter comes from beverage containers (this does not include labels or lids)
- Packaging accounts for over 40% of total plastic usage
- 85% of the world’s plastic is not recycled
Plastic production is set to increase as it is a cheap and incredibly useful resource.
Plastic pollution is a huge problem and has vast environmental issues, some still not known. What makes plastic so versatile and durable contributes to this growing epidemic.
Waste Product Decomposition Time
|Banana Skin||3-4 weeks|
|Paper Bag||1 month|
|Apple Core||1-2 months|
|Aluminum Cans||> 1 million years|
|Orange Peel||Up to 2 years|
|Cigarette Butts||Up to 12 years|
|Plastic Bags||Up to 20 years *|
|Plastic Bottles||450 years *|
|Glass||1-2 million years|
* Plastic doesn’t ever truly decompose. It breaks down into fragments that disappear from view. These fragments continue to get smaller and smaller until they become particles. These stay in the environment waiting for an organism to eat it and then continue up the food chain.
“We can’t see them anymore, but they’re still there.” – John Weinstein, South Carolina Sea Grant researcher.
It is estimated that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are in our oceans today. Of this, 270,000 tons floats on the surface of the water, whilst the remaining pieces and micro-particles pollute the deep sea floor.
This has a profound impact on all creatures of the ocean and therefore, all of us on land.
Plankton, the bottom of the food chain, eat by drawing water in and everything with it. Including indigestible, non-decomposable micro-plastics.
Impact on animals:
- Over 100,000 marine animals a year are found dead entangled in plastic. Many are not found
- More than 1 million seabirds die from plastic
- Over half of the world’s fish suffer from plastic ingestion
- Micro-plastic particles, polymers and toxic chemicals travel up the food chain
- These toxic chemicals are then consumed by humans
Join the challenge
Plastic pollution is unnecessary and unsustainable. But together we can make a difference.
Australia uses nearly 7 billion plastic bags a year alone, 3.6 billion of which are shopping bags we use once for 15 minutes then throw away.
Fact – If you tied all those plastic bags together they would wrap the globe 42.5 times!
If every week each family in Australia used one less plastic bag there would be 253 million bags less a year!
Make the change.
- When shopping bring your own reusable environmentally-friendly shopping bags
- Sit down for coffee dates using comfy mugs instead of throw away cups
- Invest in a reusable water bottle made from glass
- Buy produce how nature intended, not wrapped in a layer of throw away plastic
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- No recycling facilities available in your area? Hit your shire up! Its the 21st century
- Join the Plastic Free July Challenge on Facebook and invite your friends!
- Host a movie night and watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix
- Organise a friend date and clean up an area of your local
- Tell your government you support and want Container Deposit Legislation, where you get 10c on bottles returned. This exists in South Australia which coincidentally has a recycling rate of 74%
The other three points are for you guys. Be inventive and let me know what you come up with!
That is all for now folks! Until next time!
P.S. Want to know what plastics are doing to your health and your families health? Next week I will be answering those questions and more!