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Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Plastic Problem

January 19, 2023
Laken Scott

Plastic Pollution is Everyone's Problem

Laken Scott

The United States is privileged in its water supply, yet many turn to plastic water bottles. This is because our busy nation values time and puts a high price on convenience. Although cheap and convenient, plastics are detrimental to the environment.  

We have all heard that plastics are terrible for the environment and take hundreds of years to break down. [1] 

In the past 10 years, we have produced more plastic than in the last century. [2] Plastic is estimated to kill 100,000 marine animals yearly, and 81 out of 123 marine mammal species have encountered plastic entanglement or ingestion. [3] PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, leach into bodies of water and pollute wildlife and our food. [4] A 2022 study found that 76% of mothers had microplastics in their breast milk. [5] Other studies found microplastics in human blood, cow’s milk, and bottles used to feed babies. [6]  

We’ve all ingested microplastics at this point. What’s the big deal? 

Well, animals are dying from plastic waste, and humans actually are too. Up to 1 million people are dying annually due to mismanaged plastics and waste. [7] The harmful effects of pollution are devastating to our environment and every living thing on the planet.  

Here are some steps you can take to reduce your plastic use: 

  • Carry around a reusable water bottle 
  • Take your own reusable shopping bags to the store 
  • Make a bag out of plastic bags [8] 
  • Take your own mug out for coffee 
  • Use plastic wrap alternatives  

Exposure to plastics is inevitable as a consumer. It should be the brands’ and companies’ responsibility to mitigate plastics, but all the onus is put on the consumer. One way you can choose to take action is by supporting sustainable low-waste brands. Unfortunately, these brands have to work hard to achieve a low waste structure, since they’re the minority, making their products more expensive. There are other ways to live an eco-conscious lifestyle. Empathy for the impact of the waste is the first step. You can always pick up any litter you see and make other little decisions to live a more sustainable life. It’s not about being perfect we’re human. But doing a little is better than doing nothing at all.  

 

References 

  1. WWF. (2022, July 1). The lifecycle of plastics. https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/the-lifecycle-of-plastics  
  2. Plastic Oceans. (2021, July 21). Plastic pollution facts. Plastic Oceans International.  https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/  
  3. WWF. (2021, July 1). Plastic in our oceans is killing marine mammals. WWF. https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/plastic-in-our-oceans-is-killing-marine-mammals  
  4. CHEM Trust. (2022, October 13). PFAS – the 'forever chemicals'. CHEM Trust. https://chemtrust.org/pfas/ 
  5. WebMD. (2022, October 10). Microplastics found in human breast milk. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20221010/microplastics-found-human-breast-milk#:~:text=Oct.,potential%20health%20effects%20on%20babies  
  6. Carrington, D. (2022, March 24). Microplastics found in human blood for first time. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/24/microplastics-found-in-human-blood-for-first-time  
  7. Gulland, A. (2019, June 7). Plastics killing up to a million people a year, warns Sir David Attenborough. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/plastics-killing-million-people-year-warns-sir-david-attenborough/  
  8. Dezine. (2018, July 16). Shopping bag from plastic shopping bags. Instructables. https://www.instructables.com/Shopping-bag-from-plastic-shopping-bags/ 
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