Plastic waste is everywhere. On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. And that’s just water bottles! It doesn’t include other plastics we use daily, like straws, bags, packaging and coffee cups.
So where does all this plastic go? Some of it gets recycled. Quite a bit turns up in landfills. The majority ends up on the loose, making its way into our oceans and lakes.
Here are 10 more facts that may make you rethink your use of plastic:
1. We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use.
2. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
3. Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
4. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California, is the largest ocean garbage in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
5. One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in oceans.
6. In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments – like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles – are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
7. It takes 450-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
8. Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one-liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world. These pieces may not even be visible, making it hard to determine how much we’re taking in.
9. According to a report published in Science Advances, only about 9% of the world’s plastic has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated (polluting the air with toxic gases), and the remaining 79%, remains in the environment.
10. A recent study found that people who regularly eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic each year.
It may be impossible to escape the use of plastic completely, but you can help reduce your use of it:
1. Choose to reuse – opt for reusable bottles and shopping bags.
2. Go digital when it comes to your music and movies. No need for plastic CDs and DVDs if you can buy it online.
3. Carry reusable items with you, like utensils, to avoid the use of “disposable” plastics.
4. Bring a travel mug with you to the coffee shop to reduce lids and plastic cups.
5. Recycle any plastic you do use.
Changing just a few simple habits can greatly impact your world and the one around you.