Each year more than 300 million tons of plastic is produced; single use items make up over half of this mass production.
According to National Geographic, a mere nine per cent of plastic is recycled.
And it never fully decomposes, which means all the plastic ever created still exists in some form.
A thousand years from now, it will continue to occupy 30 per cent of the world’s landfills space as well as polluting our waterways and oceans.
Plastic pollution has many negative effects on humans, animals and our environment. As many as 100 million marine animals are killed by plastics each year.
Plastic is made from natural gases, coal and fossil fuels, which are problematic in both their extraction and their effects on the atmosphere’s carbon levels. The process of manufacturing plastic requires numerous chemicals and releases a variety of toxins into the air.
Plastic never fully breaks down, but instead divides into smaller and smaller pieces, some called microplastics. Microplastics are found in our oceans and our air. They are consumed by various filter-feeders like plankton, which are then digested by living organisms in the food chain, eventually reaching humans.
People also ingest plastic from plastic-container contamination, as well as just by breathing. According to researchers, during a 20-minute meal, 114 pieces of microplastic settle on a dinner plate from the air. Digesting plastics has many known health concerns for humans and animals, so why don’t we just stop destroying ourselves and the environment, and use alternative materials?
What can you do to stop this catastrophe from growing? As a consumer in our society, you can make the difference to reduce plastic consumption and pollution.
The Business Insider shared that 32 cities worldwide have banned some form of single-use plastic, but, unfortunately, White Rock and Surrey have not.
As a member of the community, reducing your plastic consumption is an excellent way to help create a more sustainable future for your children and grandchildren.
As my family and I began our journey towards zero waste, we discovered that it is not as hard as you might imagine. By doing simple things every day, you can reduce your plastic consumption significantly.
To start, try using a reusable mug, cup, container and cutlery every time you eat or drink out.
Keep these reusable products in your car, bag or purse so you always have them when you are on the go. Fast food containers are one of the main contributors to plastic waste and the alternative is ridiculously easy.
Meanwhile, 16 billion coffee cups are thrown out each year, worldwide. By making this simple switch, you can drastically reduce this number. How many coffee cups do you personally throw out each year?
In order to overcome the current climate crisis, it is extremely important to do little things, as every piece of plastic, every drop of oil matters. The Earth simply cannot continue to support the manufacturing of seemingly infinite quantities of plastic, to be used for 10 minutes and then discarded. As consumers, we can stop this production. Your challenge for this month is to try and monitor your to-go container consumption and reduce it as much as you can. You can attempt the full challenge of not using any to-go packaging simply by keeping reusable containers in your car or bag. Even just beginning with the coffee cup is a good place to start.
Be a part of the necessary change.
Miranda Clark is a Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She writes monthly on ways to reduce waste and minimize our environmental footprint.