I wrote an article a while back about how plastic is going to be the demise of humanity. I knew my little contribution wasn’t going to save the world, but I had to give it a shot.
I wanted to at least try to reduce my dependence on plastic.
I failed miserably.
I started with the obvious, and most easy change – I stopped using plastic bags at the grocery store. Here’s why:
Some Facts About Plastic Bags
(Information provided the the Center for Biological Diversity)
- Americans use 100 BILLION plastic bags per year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
- It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic bags per year.
- According to Waste Management, only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
- It takes 500 years (or more) for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment and our bodies.
Back to my story…
I stopped using plastic bags, but unfortunately my use of plastic as a whole was unavoidable. Even the “reusable” bags stores offer as an alternative to plastic to plastic bags are made from (wait for it) PLASTIC.
The food we buy is wrapped in plastic.
The beverages we drink are sold in plastic bottles or containers.
Pretty much everything we buy comes wrapped in plastic.
Everything around us is made of plastic.
Look around wherever you’re sitting right now. What do you see? The computer keyboard I’m typing on is plastic. The computer itself is housed in plastic. If you’re on a phone, it’s got plastic. The majority of things on my desk from my pens to the table they’re sitting on are mostly plastic. My carpet, my oven, my TV, storage containers, heck, even my car is an example of modern plasticity. We can’t escape it.
It’s good that we use paper over plastic at the grocery store, and it’s good to have a reusable water bottle, and it’s nice we stop using straws, but unless you live naked in the woods (there is even plastic fiber in our clothes), there is no way to avoid the use of plastic in our lives.
Keep in mind, plastic is a crazy combination of chemicals and petroleum. Besides environmental pollution, there is also the pollution to our bodies. If we touch anything made of plastic, it degrades, even if only in a tiny, very micro particle way. As the material degrades, it’s absorbing into foods it’s packaged in. We’re touching it, we’re inhaling it, and we’re eating it. The exposure may be minimal, but when we are inundated with it every day of our lives, that minute amount becomes exponentially larger.
Society has yet to realize what the effects of humans consuming microplastics are. With the rise in things like autism, birth defects, and certain cancers in recent decades, could the two be connected? It’s entirely possible.
We all need to do our part to cut back to reduce pollution and waste of finite resources, but we need to be concerned on a much larger scale. The very existence of life on this planet depends on it.
If you’re not going to stop using plastic, at least recycle it.
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