At Green Sprouts, we think how easy it would be if we could just call up Will Smith and say “Hey Will, how’s about you lend us that M.I.B Neauraliser for a couple of days?”. Then we could reset the world’s memories and embed a new outlook on plastic waste. Imagine if every person on this planet didn’t think of throwing trash out as the end of their plastic waste problem, but just the beginning.
If there was one supervillain in the trash, it would definitely be plastic. We started using and manufacturing plastics just 65 years ago. Since then we’ve generated 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste globally. Of this only 9% is recycled while 12% is being incinerated. The other 79%, which equates to 5 billion tons of plastic waste, is in landfill or polluting our environment.
Think about it, if you’re part of the statistic (which you are), it means 79% of the plastic you’ve ever used is still sitting in a landfill somewhere or worse in our oceans, rivers or communities. Every water bottle, straw, coffee cup, toothbrush, every plastic takeaway container, utensil or cosmetics bottle. Those balloons to mark another year on the planet, ironically impacting for so many many more.
If we take a deep dive into plastic waste, we can see the tragic impact it is having on our oceans. Plastic waste equates for 80% of marine debris. It is deadly to marine life and ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world seven species of marine turtles. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered, and plastic is doing more than its share of damage. Globally it’s estimated that approximately 52% of all sea turtles have eaten plastic. Sea turtles are commonly diagnosed with Floating Syndrome, were ocean debris such as plastic and fishing line causes air to be caught under the turtle’s shell. This results in the turtle floating around on the top of the ocean where it may be hit by seacraft, attacked by predators or even more heartbreaking will starve to death, which can take up to 12 months.
Plastic is so durable it can take up to one thousand years to breakdown. Degradable plastics are slightly different in that they are designed to break down into smaller pieces over time. The plastic itself does not decompose any quicker, it just becomes more dispersed throughout the environment and in some cases more easily consumed by wildlife. It has been projected that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. A study commissioned by WWF and carried out by the University of Newcastle, Australia, suggests people are consuming about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic every week. That’s approximately 21 grams a month, just over 250 grams a year.
Plastic use is set to increase by 40% in the next ten years. The future is not looking bright for our planet but the good news is it’s not hard to start reducing your footprint. Firstly take a serious look at your consumer habits and take ownership of your waste. A great way to start is by checking out our article on Ten tips to reduce your environmental footprint.