Research made public this past week determined that there is a patch of primarily plastic garbage in the ocean triple the size of France! Plastic pollution in our oceans is an increasingly dangerous situation for sea life that requires each of us rethinking some of our consumer choices. There are four simple ways we can create a positive change through action against this issue.
Say no to straws.
When you sit down and order a drink at a restaurant, chances are, a plastic straw is going to come with that beverage. It’s so common that most of us don’t even consider it when ordering a beverage. They’re pretty small and harmless, right? Well, not exactly. Every day, we use about a half a billion plastic straws, and what’s worse, since they can’t be easily recycled, most of them end up in the trash.
Plastic straws are among the most frequently observed type of pollution along beaches and in the ocean, and they can be extremely harmful to to wildlife. This Earth Month and beyond, pledge to say no to plastic straws. Encourage restaurants to stop using plastic straws and encourage your city government to ban them all together.
Forget the single-use paper cups.
We love our coffee, but we’ve been learning more and more that just because the paper cups we get at the coffee shop are more environmentally friendly than some types of single-use stuff doesn’t make them the best choice. Did you know that every single disposable coffee cup is responsible for putting a quarter of a pound of carbon pollution into the atmosphere?
And sadly, because many of the cups contain a plastic liner, they can’t be easily recycled. Many shops are now carrying compostable cups, but those still have to go somewhere, right?
We’re pledging to bring our own coffee mugs instead. They’re not just better for the environment in the long run, but the coffee tastes so much sweeter when you’re making the right choice for the planet.
Sack the plastic sacks.
Incredibly enough, 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second! So it’s no surprise that plastic bags are one of the most potent forms of plastic pollution. Sea life, like sea turtles, often accidentally eat them, mistaking them for jellyfish. Even on land, it’s a common sight to see them flapping in the wind when snagged in a tree.
In total, we use 5 trillion plastic bags a year. That’s enough to encircle the earth 7 times if you lay them end to end. While some cities and companies have decided to ban and stop using plastic bags, it has yet to catch on as a mainstream movement. That means, for the time being, it’s up to us to slow the use of these bags. Instead of accepting plastic bags, consider bringing your own cloth bag.
Cut out single-use plastic cutlery.
Every year, Americans use 100 million pieces of single-use, plastic cutlery. It takes more than 1,000 years for these utensils to break down and decompose, and this process leaks harmful chemicals into the environment. Less than 14% of this cutlery is recycled, leading much of it to end up in landfills and in the natural environment.
Of course, when it comes to cutlery, there’s a simple alternative: just use normal silverware. Many restaurants are moving to stop using single-use cutlery, but most still use plastic cutlery. Few places have tried to ban these single-use plastic items, which means that it’s up to us as individuals to pledge to say no.