Plastics are made from chemicals that originate as fossil fuels and end up as deadly waste in landfills and oceans. Around 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each day. Seabirds often mistake shredded plastic bags for food, filling their bodies with toxic debris. For hungry sea turtles, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between jellyfish and plastic bags. About 34% of dead leatherback sea turtles have ingested plastics. These single-use plastic bags leave marine life affected by either killing the animals or by leaving them contaminated with microplastics.
We’ve listed some facts and statistics about single-use plastics:
- Studies show that in many countries, an average person uses around 365 plastic bags per year.
- One piece of plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose.
- Chemical leachates from plastic bags impair the growth of the world’s microorganisms. Prochlorococcus, a marine bacterium that provides one-tenth of the world’s oxygen.
- It only takes 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
- There is a lot of plastic used in bottles, bags, and food. This means we consume microplastics on a daily basis. These chemicals contain chemical additives, which are associated with negative health effects including cancer, birth defects, and immune system suppression in humans and wildlife.
Here are some ways you can help make a difference:
- Skip the single-use plastics. Every time you go shopping, bring your own reusable bag.
- Try to practice waste prevention on a daily basis.
- Reuse your “single-use” plastic bags. Wash them thoroughly and you can use them over & over again.
- Skip single-use plastic bottles. Practice carrying your own reusable bottles.
- Find natural alternatives to plastics. Skip the plastic toothbrush and use a bamboo one.
There are so many ways in which you can take steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It does not matter how big the change is, as long as there is one. Every step counts. Skip the single-plastic, and be the difference you want to see!
Photo by: Pavel Danilyuk
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