Unfortunately, because of their immense popularity, plastic bottles are also at the forefront of the avalanche of plastic waste that is being produced every day all around the world – and recent reports show us figures which are a shock even to those aware of the plastic waste crisis.
A recent article in Forbes reports and cites two especially shocking plastic statistics: Globally, humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute; 91 percent of all plastic is not recycled. Together, those two facts make up a combination that should wake us right up from our indifference about the problem…
Recycling our plastic waste is critical – and the reason for that lies in the type of material that plastic really is. Plastic bottles are usually made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which take 400 years to decompose naturally. In very simple terms, that literally means that once we throw away a plastic bottle, it will be around for the next 400 years. Unless, of course, we recycle it. Plastic, although non-biodegradable, is very easily recyclable.
The two places that a great majority of our used and un-recycled plastic bottles end up in are the ocean and the landfills. Once it gets there, plastic present in the waters is a serious dangerto marine mammals, fish, sea birds, and other wildlife – via entanglement and ingestion, infamous cases of which we can witness ever so often in, for example, viral videos. To make matters worse, it is now estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!
The demand for plastic will not shrink on its own. It is estimated that in 2020, sold will be more than half a trillion plastic bottles. Facing a problem of such huge proportions, it is easy to feel discouraged but we must remember that we all have the power to make a difference. The current plastic situation is difficult to say the very least – and in order to make significant progress in the matter, we have to cooperate on a global scale.
By making simple swaps in our daily lives, we can keep plastic out of landfills and the oceans, and eventually, hopefully, lower demands for this product altogether. If you’re feeling inspired and want to learn how to take action today, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
Plastic can be found in virtually every shape and form. It is a material that makes our lives incredibly convenient, but most people rarely think about the impact plastic has on the world around us.
Unlike other materials, plastic never really goes away. We love plastic because it is durable, waterproof, and versatile, but the downside of these qualities is that it lasts forever.
Plastic does not biodegrade and it takes hundreds of years for it to break down through a process of photodegradation. Basically, plastic can only disintegrate if it is exposed to UV rays which break its structural bonds apart – and even when this happens, it never truly goes away, it just becomes tons of microscopic pieces of plastic.
Marine Animal Extinction is the Real Cost of Convenience
- Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is NOT reclaimed or recycled.
- Around 8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year!
- 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, pollution, and ingestion.
- 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs.
- By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste.
What Can YOU do?
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
“Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society and seemingly unavoidable. But is it worth risking the lives of marine species, the health of the oceans and our own future in the name of convenience? By taking baby steps to minimize hidden plastics in our lives, we can crush plastic at its source and help the world take a giant collective leap into a better future,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet.