DID YOU KNOW?
Plastic never goes away.
Plastic is a durable material made to last forever, yet 33 percent of it is used once and then discarded. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.
Plastic spoils our groundwater.
There are tens of thousands of landfills across the globe. Buried beneath each one of them, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals is seeping into groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
Plastic attracts other pollutants.
Manufacturers' additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPAs and PVCs, can leach their own toxins. These oily poisons repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.
Plastic threatens wildlife.
Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.
Plastic piles up in the environment.
Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; only 8 percent of it gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or becomes 'litter', and a small portion is incinerated.
Plastic poisons our food chain.
Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.
Plastic affects human health.
Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.
Plastic costs billions to abate.
Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.
Around 80 percent of marine litter originates on land.
Plastic can travel many miles to make its way into the ocean, traveling via wind rain and storm drains.
Scientists estimate that more than eight million metric tons of plastic is entering our ocean every year.
At this rate, it's projected there could be a pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish in the ocean within the next decade.
Some debris is being turned into energy.
Abandoned and lost fishing gear is a big problem. It entangles and kills marine life and is a hazard to navigation. Based on a model program in Hawaii, the Fishing for Energy program was formed in 2008 to tackle this problem with creative new ideas. The program is a partnership between NOAA, Covanta Energy Corporation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Schnitzer Steel. This program offers the fishing community a no-cost way to dispose of old or derelict fishing gear. Once removed from the environment, the gear is transported to the nearest Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility. About one ton of derelict nets creates enough electricity to power one home for 25 days!
Carbon emissions into our atmosphere are killing our coral reefs.
Our oceans are absorbing the excess carbon dioxide and becoming more acidic. The acid is literally ‘eating away' the skeleton of the corals.
Every day ships throughout the world discard 5.5 million pieces of rubbish into our oceans.
HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT PLASTIC POLLUTION?
Wean yourself off disposable plastics
Ninety percent of the plastic items in our daily lives are used once and then chucked: grocery bags, plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids. Take note of how often you rely on these products and replace them with reusable versions. It only takes a few times of bringing your own bags to the store, silverware to the office, or travel mug to Starbucks before it becomes habit.
Stop buying water
Each year, close to 20 billion plastic bottles are tossed in the trash. Carry a reusable bottle in your bag, and you’ll never be caught having to resort to a Poland Spring or Evian again. If you’re nervous about the quality of your local tap water, look for a model with a built-in filter.
Put pressure on manufacturers
Though we can make a difference through our own habits, corporations obviously have a much bigger footprint. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or hit them where it really hurts: Give your money to a more sustainable competitor.
Buy in bulk
Single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, tiny packages of nuts—consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you tend to buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time.
Support Organizations Addressing Plastic Pollution
There are many non-profit organizations working to reduce and eliminate ocean plastic pollution in a variety of different ways, The important thing is that we all do something, no matter how small.
Participate In (or Organize) a Beach or River Cleanup