Plastic is everywhere. We are obsessed with it. With over 300 million tons of plastic produced each year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes, our planet is choking on it. Yes, plastic has become a necessity for many important aspects of our livelihood. However, it has by far surpassed the line of necessity. Our level of plastic production, use, and waste have become straight-up irresponsible towards our environment and our own well-being.
More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year. All of this plastic has created garbage patch islands around the world — most notably The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Studies show this patch contains more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighs 80,000 tons, and is 1.6 million square kilometers — 617,000 square miles. To put this into perspective, it weighs more than 43,000 cars, is 2x the size of Texas, 3x the size of France, and is equivalent to 250 pieces of debris for every human in the world. ⠀
The scariest part is the majority of the plastics are below the ocean surface as tiny 5mm microplastics we can't see. These plastics are extremely harmful to our environment, impacting more than 600 marine species, and also to us humans. According to the United Nations, plastic pollution is conservatively estimated to have yearly financial damage of 13 billion USD.
There is proof plastic is in the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the water we drink.
Some studies show we are ingesting 5 grams of plastic a week, the equivalent weight of a credit card. How is this happening? The plastic we are dumping into the oceans is breaking down — small enough to enter our food chain, along with other types of microplastics like those that are released when we wash our clothes.
Our clothing account for 1/3 of the microplastic pollution. 60% of our clothes are now made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, think sportswear) which is essentially plastic. When we put them through the washing machine, tiny threads of plastic called microfibers end up shedding. Studies have shown over 6 million microfibers shed from a typical 5kg wash load of polyester fabric. These fibers are so small they bypass filtration systems in place, get dumped into our oceans at staggering rates, ingested by marine life, eventually entering our food chains and our bodies.
There is proof plastic is in the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the water we drink. What's more alarming is the plastic in the air and now inside our bodies is in the form of nano-particles — plastic particles so small we cannot see them and we are simply breathing them in. We still don't know what this plastic is doing to our bodies but we need to stop it before there are serious consequences to deal with.
Here are some simple things we can do today to reduce plastic waste and pollution. ⠀
- Simply buy and use less of everything
- Drink coffee and water with reusable cups & bottles
- Shop with reusable bags, no more plastic bags
- Brush with bamboo/wood (biodegradable) toothbrushes
- Use soap and shampoo bars instead of those contained in plastic containers
- If you need to buy new clothes, look for alternatives to synthetic materials or buy products made from recycled materials
- Use products like Guppyfriend Washing Bag when washing clothing made out of synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, recycled synthetics) to reduce the amount of microfibers from entering our oceans
- Sign this petition to push our governments to sign a global legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution
These are just some examples. Let's reduce and reuse, be aware and mindful of the impact we have on our planet and ourselves.