Plastic Pollution in the USA

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In America we love plastic! We use it in our everyday life because it’s super convenient, but most people rarely think about the impact plastic has on the world around us. The downside of these qualities is that, unlike other materials, plastic does not biodegrade and it takes over hundreds of years for it to break down causing an increase every day to plastic pollution. Those billions of plastics end up in our oceans. This has become a cause of global concerns.

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Research has shown over the past two decades’ plastic has drastically increased. This is because we have produced over 300 million tons of plastic every year here in the United States. Of that million only 22 percent is being recycled, a bulk of it is in the landfill taking around one thousand years to decompose and somehow around 8.8 million tons of that plastic is making its way into our oceans every year. That’s obviously an extortioner amount of plastic that is in the home of our marine animals. The outcome of this is that our 700-marine animals are facing extinction due to entanglement, ingestion, and pollution. For instance, did you know that 50 percent of our sea turtles have eaten plastic because they commonly mistake it for jellyfish, along with 60 percent of all seabirds? And on top of that, studies have shown that by 2050, 99 percent of these seabirds will have ingested plastic waste. Not only does it harm our oceans, but it also harms our wildlife, land animals, and making its way back into us! Yes, people in India who are consuming fish and cows are at risk of consuming 11,000 fragments of plastic each year, according to a recent Belgian study. This is due to the cows that are eating around 35kg of plastic. And worse, the ingested plastic bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal. There is no reason to stay silent! We should all be putting the effort to make a change for a cause we care about. Each and every one of us has the power to speak out about the issue to our friends, co-works, and our community. However, being eco-friendly goes far beyond just turning off your lights or separating your garbage for recycling – it is about changing the purpose of how you live. That’s why we can make a personal commitment in our daily lifestyle, to choose to be more environmentally friendly Such as ditching plastic for good!

If we all make the efforts to identify where we use plastic and focus on finding better alternatives, we can make a drastic difference. Such as, if everyone in the U.S alone stops using plastic, we would keep over 555 billion pounds of plastic out of our biggest habitat on the planet – The ocean. But in the meantime, we can focus on smaller changes while we wait to tackle the big step of our eco-friendly resolution- Banning plastic. Here are five effective ways to help live an eco-friendlier lifestyle.

The amazing thing about the internet is we are allowed to broadcast our thoughts. Creating a website is a great way to encourage people to be eco-friendlier by providing easy information and alternatives to help the environment. For instances making a list like this one below:

taking cotton bags with you when grocery shopping is a better alternative than using a plastic carrier bag, you use them equally the same as a plastic bag such as for produce and if you put it in the fridge it helps the produce from going bad so quickly too.

Use stainless steel or mason jars when grocery shopping to store all your bulk food items like oats, cashew, nuts, cereal, etc.

Using storage containers when you have leftovers from restaurants,

Getting rid of saran wrap and aluminum foil and switching for reusable food wrap which is a piece of cloth that has wax, heat it up with your hand to make it stick and come in different shape and sizes. Plus, when you’re in the bakery section of a grocery store you can just ask the person if they can wrap it in this instead of using plastic. They are washable which is great and can last up to a year and of course, they are biodegradable!

Replace tea bag to a tea ball or a strainer!

Switch to bar soap and shampoo to avoid plastic packaging.

Buy plastic-free beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products, like bamboo toothbrushes, plastic-free makeup brushes and natural material sponges.

Conduct a survey asking people from the community if the government “Should disposable products (such as plastic cups, plates, and cutlery) that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material be banned?” Also, gather their signatures on this form to create a formal petition and submit it to the legislature for consideration or to the people for a direct vote. This is a good starting point to gather data to show that people agree with your position and to raise awareness of the issue!

Joining a local-sponsored cleanup group can be the most innovative ways to bring about environmental change. But it is for sure one of the most rewarding. Since there are no government agencies regularly responsible for cleaning up trash from a river, ocean and to lakes. Meaning if we want clean beaches, us citizens have to join a locally-sponsored group or find a National River Cleanup through American Rivers. Did you know? Most of our Oceans are reaching crisis levels. Since the garbage patch also known as north pacific gyre is circulates in the ocean for so long it breaks down plastic into tiny particles or microplastics which are nearly impossible to clean up. This garbage patch is where ocean current converges to create a concentration of plastics. And when pieces of plastic are in the water column they act as little sponges and accumulate toxins causing animals to injustice it. But Removing trash can make a river safer for wildlife, humans and improve water quality while protecting aquatic habitats.

Starting an interest group in your community is an awesome way to spread awareness about food wastage! Start by informing local neighbors’ about how a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year. Put another way, that is about 1.5 lbs. per person, a day in the U.S. Food scraps generated by all households in the United States could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high! Not only that, it’s a huge contributor to climate change and responsible for sixty percent of global biodiversity loss, that’s massive! Surely, it’s so important for us to implement it into our daily lifestyles of trying to reduce food wastage. It is easier than you may think. A big part of it is not buying way more than you need and a way to go over that is to buy as you go rather than doing one massive. In addition, we can inform each other about the benefits of composting food and how to properly compose food! Composing food is one of the best ways to create natural fertilizer, new soil, and nutritional vegetables. Since it is nutrient-rich with a host of beneficial microorganisms. This means you are ‘growing the soil’ without artificial inputs. Unlike as the synthetic fertilizers that are often too high in nitrogen.

writing a letter to local schools, stores, and even your representative about swapping out vending machines filled with soda bottles to filtered water bottle filling stations. This can help reduce the 80 percent of plastic bottles that end up in the dump. We should all have either a glass bottle or a metal bottle. So, we can fill it up in the morning take it throughout the day and use the filtered water bottle stations from school to work to even stores! It’s a lot cheaper than buying continuous bottles of water, it’s healthier as well because you’re not drinking water that’s been in plastic. It also encourages people to have a more positive lifestyle change. These filtered water bottle filling stations use high performance to remove common contaminants such as chlorine and lead. Additionally, it has a built-in water bottle counters that track the number of plastic bottles that are being saved from acting as entanglement.

It is time that we must understand the intensity at which plastic is destroying our environment and making life difficult for plants, animals, marine creatures as well as human beings. The use of plastic products must be lowered to ensure a cleaner environment. We should be doing everything we can to stop that from happening and by you using some these methods, you can think about the amount of plastic that you are not going to be using, all those bottles or bags every single day and get rid of this single-use plastic economy that we’re living in. 

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Plastic Pollution In The USA. (2021, Jun 03). Retrieved from