Plastic pollution is a serious issue facing our world today. So much of what we use is so conveniently packaged with disposable plastic. While it might seem wonderful to be able to skip the dishes and toss the plastic when you’re done, this creates plastic pollution which adversely affects wildlife, habitats, and humans. Plastic is a durable material that is resistant to many natural processes of degradation. Why is this a problem? Well, it means that plastic is very slow to break down. So what are some changes that we can all make in our lives that can help the plastic pollution problem? Let’s take a look.
Reduce your personal plastic use. Now that you’re aware of this problem, you can do your part by being conscious of how much plastic you consume. Instead of buying that 24 pack of Poland Spring individual bottled waters, opt for a BPA free reusable bottle. Instead of purchasing a number of plastic containers to store your food in and dispose of at lunch, try a reusable glass lunch container. It may not be fun having to do extra dishes, but if everyone used a little less plastic, we would make a huge difference over time.
Say no to plastic accessories.
If you’re getting your morning coffee from your local shop, simply say no to the plastic straw or beverage top. This might seem negligible, but if you were to refuse these small pieces of plastic each day, think about how much that would add up to within a year. If you’re going grocery shopping, think about how many plastic bags you’re bringing home with you each trip, especially if you ask for a double. Instead, bring along some reusable fabric shopping bags. If you absolutely have to use a bag from the shop, think of a way to reuse it for something else, and don’t let it go to waste.
When you’re walking through a park or along the beach, be aware of your surroundings. It sucks picking up after others, especially complete strangers, but if you see a plastic cup in the sand or even a straw, be mindful of where this plastic could end up. Plastic pollution is a major issue for our wildlife. Plastic all the way on the sand can wind up in the ocean and can be harmful to animals. It might not be a glamorous act of kindness, but our wildlife will be thankful, and so will our planet.
Some people really don’t realize the harm of plastic pollution, especially in cities and towns with plastic recycling programs. A lot of people don’t even know there are alternatives like paper straws. We need to educate our fellow humans and make them aware that these programs don’t exist everywhere and only a small percentage of our consumed plastic is actually being recycled. The more people aware of how harmful plastic can be to our Earth, the easier it will be to rally and start up necessary recycling programs to further our efforts as a whole. The first step to making any change is becoming aware.
It is estimated that between 1.1 and 8.8 metric tons of plastic enter our oceans from coastal communities each year. That’s not a number or laugh at. Marine animals can get tangled in plastic or ingest it. There are chemicals in the makeup of plastic that can be harmful to animals. As you can tell, plastic pollution is an issue that we need to take care of. If each of us did a small part to begin reducing our use of plastic and to reuse instead of throw out, we would be well on our way to a better, cleaner future.