April 22nd is Earth Day. This year’s theme is #EndPlasticPollution. The problem caused by plastic in our environment is an epic disaster already happening. Here are just a few things you need to know:
According to several reports cited on the official Earth Day 2018 website, to date, 9.1 billion tons of non-recycled plastic has been produced globally. Of that only 9% has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated. The remaining 79% representing 5.5 billion tons, has accumulated in landfills and the natural environment.
If current production and waste management trends continue, 12.2 billion tons will enter landfills or the environment by the year 2050. To get a sense of what this means, consider if 5 billion tons of plastic waste were transformed into a cling wrap, it would be enough to cover the entire planet. We are literally suffocating in our own plastic waste! Here are three facts about plastic pollution that may surprise you.
- The main cause for the increase in plastic production is the rise of plastic packaging. In 2015 packaging accounted for 42% of non-fiber plastic produced. That year, packaging also made up 54% of plastics thrown away.
- The drilling of oil and processing into plastic releases harmful gas emissions into the environment including carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, ozone, benzene, and methane (a greenhouse gas that causes a greater warming effect than carbon dioxide) according to the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
- The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA estimated that five ounces of carbon dioxide are emitted for every ounce of Polyethylene Terephthalate produced (also known as PET – the plastic most commonly used to make water bottles).
There are literally hundreds of things you can do to refuse, reuse and reduce plastic from your life and the world at large. As the saying goes, think globally and act locally. That’s why I’ve put together a list of 12 Ways You Can Downsize Plastic From Your Home. Pick one or two and as Mahatma Gandhi said, start to be the change you want to see in the world.
- Understand and follow the recycling rules in your county. Start by being willing to have three receptacles in your kitchen – one for recycling, one for compost and one for trash
- Collect all your plastic trash for one week just to see how much you actually use. It may make you think twice about how much plastic you buy
- Stop buying single use plastic bottles and fill a reusable bottle instead
- Start to notice how things are packaged and opt for grocery items packaged in cardboard vs. plastic whenever possible, for example laundry detergent
- Minimize your use of plastic bags. Keep reusable bags in your car
- Say no to straws or buy the reusable kind made of wood or metal
- Use a thermos for your morning cup of coffee and bring it with you to your local coffee shop
- Don’t buy disposable razors
- Swap out or minimize all those plastic food storage containers you’ve collected over the years, especially those without lids or bottoms. Use glass or metal containers.
- Buy from bulk bins. This doesn’t mean having to buy in bulk. Bring your own reusable cloth containers or jars.
- Stop using disposable plastic plates.
- Donate plastic household items or decor you don’t love or are no longer using. Don’t just throw them out.In short try to do what you can to:
- Reduce your consumption of plastics.
- Properly recycle the plastic you use.
- Remove and/or refuse to use plastic that is already in the environment.
For more information about Earth Day 2018 visit www.earthday.org/earthday