Think about this: every piece of plastic ever made still exists somewhere. It comprises our vehicles, our spacecraft, and even medical equipment. This explains why plastic is the most pervasive type of pollution, found on top of mountains and at the bottom of the sea.
But it’s also inexpensive, which leads many to utilize it for single-use purposes. But single-use plastics are choking our natural environment. It’s up to us to say no to single use plastics. Here are 10 facts about plastic that will make you rethink your choices.
Not all plastic waste will end up polluting the natural environment, but even in the landfill, plastics can be dangerous.
Plastics that find themselves on top of the landfill can be carried off by animals or the wind. Plastic that gets buried can sometimes leak harmful pollutants into the ground and water.
Millions of tons of plastic end up in the ocean
An astonishing 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced makes its way into the ocean every year.
That’s the same as 1 dump truck of plastic dumping right into the ocean every minute! If we don’t do something, this will likely double by 2030 and double again by 2050.
Single-use plastic accounts for half of all plastic thrown away
Throw-away packaging accounts for more than half of plastic thrown away and more than 42% of non-fiber (like polyester) plastic produced each year.
Worldwide, 500 billion disposable cups are used every year
25 billion styrofoam cups are thrown away every year in the United States alone. Styrofoam cannot be fully recycled, which means most of it will end up in the landfill. In 500 years, the styrofoam thrown away today will still exist.
500,000 single-use plastic straws are used every single day
These straws, like all single-use plastics, are often not recycled and can cause serious damage in the natural environment. More and more companies and cities around the world are banning single-use plastic straws.
When you go shopping, do you bring your own reusable bag?
Around the world, 4 trillion plastic bags are used every year. Even though most grocery stores offer plastic bag recycling, only 1% of these bags are recycled.
Worldwide, we buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute!
While most plastic bottles are recyclable, only about 23% end up being recycled.
In the United States, the average person uses 13 plastic bottles every month.
If we all chose to use a reusable bottle instead, we could each save around 156 plastic bottles from entering the waste stream each year!
There are very few organisms in the world proven to cause plastic to biodegrade.
Most microorganisms simply cannot process and break down plastic. This means that it can take hundreds, if not thousands of years for one plastic bottle in a landfill or left in the natural environment to break down into something usable by the ecosystem.
10% of all the plastic that we use ends up in the ocean.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you visit, plastic can be found washing up on nearly every single beach. The ocean is riddled with plastic waste. An astonishing 10% of all plastic that we use ends up in the ocean.