Let's talk about something that has been making a monumental impact on our planet for decades but that most people don’t even think twice about. Plastic. I think the main issue is that people don’t really know where it’s going or see what it’s truly doing. I’m here to try and show you some numbers and give you some ideas so that maybe you will try and lower your usage of plastic and think twice the next time you want to throw that Ziplock baggie, plastic straw, soup can, or water bottle away.
Now first let me start off by saying that I am not perfect. No one is. I still use plastic in some areas of my life and I have a long way to go before I can say that I am using as little plastic as I possibly can. The important thing is that I’m trying. As long as you are trying to make an effort, that’s the key to change. No matter how big or small. I am slowly trying to work my way to feeling satisfied with the amount of plastic I use per day (if any). It is hard, I know. But the plastic that I do use, I recycle. I can’t stress enough how important recycling is.
A good tip to helping you to remember to recycle is to put a bucket or trash bin next to your normal trash can so that when you go to throw something away that should be recycled, you will see the other bin and start consciously remembering to place it in the new bin instead of the trash. Also, because my fiancé and I have so much to recycle in our house, that little square bucket we got for recycling through the neighborhood wasn’t cutting it for us. We decided to call and get a free big recycling trash bin to be able to put all of our stuff in so that it can be taken by the recycling company on trash day (Did you know they would give that to you for free? Yeah neither did I!) You can do the same!
The huge thing with plastic and why it is being used so often is because of convenience. I get that. People use it because it’s easier. It’s easier to grab a water bottle than it is to fill up a stainless steel to-go cup with water from a filtered machine. It’s easier to put your fruit in a baggie than to use a glass Tupperware that you will have to carry around with you all day and wash later. It’s just easier.
But haven’t you heard that saying that nothing good in life comes easy?
How do we expect to keep this planet alive and thriving for our future generations if we always choose the easy route? Sure, it may not be convenient to save that piece of plastic from your lunch that seems so insignificant, but I promise you it’s worth it.
It is now believed that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea. It is also believed that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean. Worldwide, 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped into the ocean every day. And every year, there are 6.4 million tons dumped. Just take that in for a second. This is the same as 3,200 kilometers of trucks each loaded with garbage. Scientists have identified 200 areas declared as ‘dead zones’ where no life organisms can now grow. Can you imagine losing your beautiful home because your neighbor took over your entire lot with their trash?
But yet this is what animals on our planet go through every single day. We treat our home like an amusement park while they treat it like a sanctuary.
Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year. This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth. And the number is rising.
That is what I’m here to focus on today. (Removing the use of all plastic is the goal, but baby steps right?)
Plastic bags never biodegrade, but they do breakdown. It can take anywhere from 20-1000 years for a plastic bag to break up. As they do so, any toxic additives they contain—including flame retardants, antimicrobials and plasticizers—will be released into the environment. Many of these chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system—the delicately balanced set of hormones and glands that affect virtually every organ and cell in the bodies of humans and animals.
Why bring reusable bags to the grocery store?
1. Plastic bags are especially harmful to marine animals.
100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are just the ones found. Also from consuming the plastic as well. For example, sea turtles. Sea turtles mistake plastic bags as jelly fish and consume them without a second thought. As they should because who would think that plastic bags would be floating around in the ocean, that’s not where they belong...? Oh wait.
The plastic blocks their digestive tract and the food that is trapped releases gases that render them buoyant, and then they are unable to dive for their food. Which causes them to eventually die from starvation among many other things. Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic. Whether it is from consuming or entanglement.
These animals think the plastic is food and it ends up costing them their life. We end up costing them their life. The awful thing is that an animal that dies from the bag will eventually decompose and then that same bag will be released so that another animal can harmlessly fall victim and once again eat the same bag so that the vicious cycle continues.
2. Easier Transportation
I can’t begin to tell you how annoying it is to make 15 trips back and forth from the car to carry all the bags from the grocery store into the house. I know y’all are thinking the same thing... Well guess what? I carry 3 bags into the grocery store and guess what else? I then carry only those 3 bags back into the house when I get home. IT IS AMAZING. I’m not even playing up my excitement about this. I’m truly happy that I don’t have to do as much work because I mean, I just used up all my energy making my way around the store and making sure everything gets checked off my list. Can I get an amen for conserving our own energy while also saving the planet at the same time? Amen.
3. Nope. That’s it. Just two reasons and those are enough for me.
Remember, nothing worth having comes without a little dedication, discipline, and hard work. So if we continue to try our best by taking small actions, those add up to causing the big impacts our planet desperately needs. I hope you found this post to be somewhat helpful and maybe it was that little push you needed to start your journey with reducing your use of plastic. And maybe it also made you want to go out to buy yourself a few reusable totes for your next grocery trip! (hopefully)
Maya says happy shopping and thank you for taking the time to care about others! Xo