Lifestyle Hacks For Fighting Plastic Pollution
By John McGran
I started writing the COAST is Clear blog back in March, but it was just last week that I realized my thoughts and behaviors concerning plastic pollution have changed for the better.
I’m sure I was in the vast majority of folks who went about their daily life never giving much thought to where my plastic drinking straw, plastic water bottle or plastic grocery bag were going when I was through with them.
Now, seven months after crafting my first blog for COAST, I know too much to casually toss my single-use plastic items in the trash. Even though we try our hardest to dispose of such items carefully and properly, it seems a mind-boggling amount makes its way to our waterways and then to our coasts and oceans where it kills animals and poses a long-lasting threat to humans.
So, back to that moment when I realized writing about plastic pollution has had an effect on my thinking …
There I was walking in a Walmart lot when I spied a large red straw tossed near my car. Knowing how plastic straws may be small in size but pose a large headache for the environment, I didn’t hesitate to scoop it up and bring it home where I carefully stored it with my other recyclables.
And since that fateful day when my behavior took a turn for the better, I have tried to cart reusable shopping bags to the grocery store and I have been using my stainless steel drink cup to sip water that comes from a home 5-gallon jug system rather than those 16.9-ounce crinkly plastic bottles.
I’ve also abandoned my beloved plastic straws and drink from my cup au naturel!
Will my lifestyle hacks clean up the planet? No. But they’re a step in the right direction and I feel better about myself for practicing what I preach in this blog.
Need a reminder of just how intrusive and dangerous plastic pollution can be? Check out a few disturbing facts from EarthDay.org:
9.1 BILLION tons of plastic has been produced since plastic was introduced in the 1950s. The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity.
500 MILLION plastic straws are used EVERY DAY in America. That’s enough to circle the Earth twice.
Nearly TWO MILLION single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute.
100 BILLION plastic bags are used by Americans every year. Tied together, they would reach around the Earth’s equator 773 times!
ONE MILLION plastic bottles are bought EVERY MINUTE around the world — and that number will top half a TRILLION by 2021. Less than half of those bottles end up getting recycled.
8 MILLION METRIC TONS of plastic winds up in our oceans each year. That’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic … compounding every year.
If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.
So, how are you helping turned the tide on plastic pollution? Let us know about your small victories.