Plastic is everywhere. Literally everywhere. It has invaded every home, store, electronic, and even the occasional dog (just ask our resident office puppy). Your grandma even uses it to protect that antique sofa that no one’s allowed to sit on. A recent study estimates that since mass production began in 1950, humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. That’s enough to bury Manhattan two-miles deep!
Over the decades, the plastic manufacturing industry has grown 8% annually, and it’s not slowing down: 4.15 billion metric tons of plastic—half of all the plastic EVER MADE—was manufactured since 2004. But it’s not just Granny’s furniture-wrapping tendencies that have caused this massive and consistent growth.
So what's causing it then?
It’s packaging, which in 2015 accounted for 42% of all plastic use, capitalizing on the shifting global trend from reusable to single-use products. In a world where 1 million plastic water bottles are consumed every minute, how can we not have a plastic problem?
Since so many single-use products are made of plastic, most plastics are no longer in use! In fact, over 6 billion metric tons of plastic have been thrown away. Most of this ends up in landfills and oceans. Plastic is non-biodegradable and with the current rates of consumption, we are simply adding to the already too-big pile of junk that is quite literally just sitting there. While the long-term consequences of plastic on our environment are unknown, it’s probably not just an aesthetic issue.
It's up to us to stop using plastic
Our global plastic pollution problem must be solved by a change in behavior; we cannot keep consuming plastic at this rate. You may think that as soon as you toss a plastic bottle into that blue bin that you’ve done your part, and although recycling is extremely important, it usually just delays plastic’s inevitable fate: it will eventually either be incinerated or sit in landfills and waterways for thousands of years to come. Now you may be thinking: “how can I help?” (and if you’re not, well, maybe you should be!)
The first step to solving any problem is awareness: you are now officially aware that plastic has got to go!
Next Step: Bye, bye plastic!