In thinking of simple ways to reduce human impact on the planet one of the most helpful things that people can do is reduce their use of plastic. Each week in the United States there are enough plastic bottles discarded to circle the planet five times. The average American will throw away about 185 pounds of plastic and use 1,200 plastic bags each year. With a population of approximately 314 million people in the United States it is clear that this can have an astronomical impact on the environment. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition disposable plastic items such as plastic bags, straws, bottles, utensils, lids, and cups are the largest source of the problem.
Plastic, which degrades slowly and never in totality, is causing many environmental issues around the world. It is estimated that 90% of all the trash in the ocean is plastic. This plastic effects an estimated 267 species on all levels of the food chain. Marine life forms such as fish and jellyfish consume plastic and are in turn eaten by larger fish or marine animals that carry the toxins of the plastic with them. Furthermore, 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die each year due to ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic pollution. Many people think that marine life alone is impacted however, the human species is at risk also. Many animal studies have been conducted and plastic has been linked to cancer, infertility, obesity and early puberty. By consuming seafood and marine animals it is inevitable that humans will be physically effected by the plastic pollution which they have created.
Take a pledge to reduce your consumption of plastic items. Organizations, such as Oceana, have created simple lists of things you can do to reduce plastic use.
1. Using a reusable tote or other bag at the grocery store
2. Drinking water out of glass or other non-plastic container
3. Recycling plastics whenever possible
4. Never littering and always disposing of trash properly
5. Encouraging my friends and family to reduce their plastics consumption
By incorporating a few or all of these items in our daily lives we can begin to minimize plastic pollution and improve our oceans.