The facts and statistics that detail the amount of plastic waste in the environment do not paint a pretty picture.
In fact, plastic waste statistics are disastrous.
In the last decade, there has been more plastic churned out of factories around the world, used (sometimes for just seconds), and dumped than ever before in history.
A shocking fifty percent of this has been used just once. It is then discarded and sits festering in dump yards, waterways, and in oceans around the world, taking a millennium to fully break-down
To put this into perspective, every year we chuck away enough plastic to go around the earth, not once or twice, but four times over.
So where is all this plastic coming from?
Plastic Bottles: The Poster Boy of Plastic Waste
Plastic bottles are a major contributor to the plastic waste nightmare that has swept the world.
Although there are some slight signs that we have started to wake up and realize that buying a single-use plastic bottle is absolutely absurd. There are still approximately one-million plastic bottles sold every sixty seconds around the world.
Unfortunately, this number is set to increase by another twenty percent over the next three years and have a guess how much of this plastic is recycled: just 27%.
That leaves us with billions and billions of empty plastic bottles endlessly floating around our oceans, littering our beaches, and spoiling our countrysides.
The Simple Solution:
Just buy yourself a reusable water bottle made out of durable material. This will stop your reliance on plastic bottles. It’s really as simple as that. The only thing you need to do is remember to take it with you everywhere you go.
Plastic Bag Waste
Another major culprit, plastic bags, create an even bigger problem. Did you know that the average time we use a plastic bag for is just twelve measly minutes?
One study found that your average Ozzy will go through 170 bags a year, and that is peanuts compared to China, where two million are used every minute!
Global statistics are even more worrying. It is thought that we use a trillion plastic bags a year — yes, one trillion. That’s 1,000,000,000,000.
The Simple Solution:
Again the solution is ridiculously simple. All you need to do is purchase a tote bag, or two, and re-use it every time you go grocery shopping. After a few shopping trips, you will be in the habit of doing this, until you never need another plastic bag again.
Plastic Packaging and Utensils
Single-serve plastic packaging is another huge contributor.
Think about the last time you got a takeaway. It would have likely been delivered in a plastic Tupperware container, with a pair of plastic utensils accompanying it, all wrapped up in a plastic bag.
Research has found that in the US, over a hundred million plastic utensils and over five hundred million plastic straws are purchased, used for just seconds, and mindlessly thrown out every day.
The Simple Solution:
There are countless ways you can solve this, three examples are:
Refuse drinks with plastic straws, and purchase a reusable straw made from sustainably sourced materials like bamboo.
Rather than taking away every time, ensure you have enough time to sit down in the cafe for your coffee and drink from a proper coffee mug (it’s much nicer anyway). Better still, invest in a reusable coffee cup that’s well insulated and keeps your coffee warm all morning.
Ask your takeaway service to avoid excess packaging, and make sure they do not sneak in any plastic cutlery.
Out of the Spotlight: Plastic Sunglasses
Beyond these major sources of plastic waste, there are other lesser-known sources of plastic waste that need our attention.
Take the fashion industry. The number of plastic accessories that are discarded after little use is getting out of hand.
For example, the vast majority of sunglasses are made out of plastic, even the lenses. Think about how many pairs we needlessly get through.
We usually get rid of our sunglasses because the lenses get a little worn down. This is understandable, but also unnecessary. People should know that there are other, less wasteful, options.
The Solution: Support Companies That Minimise Consumerism
Fortunately, there are many companies out there that are doing their bit to help stop the treadmill of consumerism.
There are many companies that are offering services to make your goods last.
For example, you’ve got a great pair of sunglasses which have taken you ages to find and cost you a pretty penny to buy. You’ve had them for years but one day you drop them and break one of the lenses.
In this condition, you can’t use them but instead of just throwing them in the closest bin you can get new lenses for a fraction of the price of new sunglasses and help the environment at the same time.
Some other major brands are going a step further and collecting rubbish from the ocean to create entire denim collections made from this plastic waste. Even high-class celebrities such as Pharrell Williams are getting behind the movement and endorsing these products.
A Throw-away Society
The way we think as a society: throw it away and carry on with our day, needs to change.
By being a little bit more organized, fixing things rather than throwing them out, and being a little more adamant in refusing plastic, we can make huge progress in reducing the amount of plastic waste we produce.