Earth Day 2019: Single Use Plastic

Hey! Since Earth Day is coming up this week, I’ve decided to put my newfound passion for conscious and sustainable living to good use by sharing some info and a few tips for being a little kinder to our planet.

About four months ago I started to see it. PLASTIC. It’s literally everywhere. I’m not saying that I had previously had some kind of condition that made me unable to see things that were plastic – I’m saying that I started to really SEE it. And believe me, once you see plastic, you can never un-see it.

Now, I walk into grocery stores and all I see is plastic. Berries in plastic containers, pre-cut lettuce and veggies in plastic bags, mushrooms in styrofoam containers wrapped in plastic, and don’t even get me started about the individual broccoli crowns wrapped in plastic or the 3 packs of cucumbers that are wrapped individually and then ALSO wrapped in a pack (#cucumbercondoms). And then you go through the aisles and its all bags of rice and pasta, cans of beans and peas, packaged granola bars and fruit snacks – you get the point. Plastic in everywhere we go and in almost everything we buy.

Have you ever thought about how much waste you produce in a day? That coffee you get in a disposable cup, the packaged foods and beverages you consume, the beauty and personal care products you use, the plastic lunch bags and cutlery you use once and throw away, etc. Now multiply that by 365 days of the year. Now multiply that by BILLIONS of people who also produce that much waste.

Did you know that every single piece of plastic that has ever been produced is still existing somewhere in the world today? Approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally every year, and it all ends up in landfills and oceans, and yes, lots of it is recycled, but what most people do not know, is that plastic can only be recycled a few times before it becomes broken down into micro plastics that end up in our water streams and our oceans.

Known as the Pacific Garbage Patch, there is an area of the Pacific ocean that is 1.6 million square kilometers in size (more than twice the size of Texas), where mass amounts of plastic circle. And when this much plastic is in our oceans, it’s inevitable that marine animals will consume mass amounts of it, often killing them because their stomachs are full of plastic that they cannot digest, causing them to starve. Or they are fished from the oceans and turned into food which contains harmful chemicals from the plastic that they consumed. (**note, the fishing industry is a HUGE contributor to ocean plastic, as many fishing nets/lines are abandoned. Over 46% of the plastic in the Pacific Garbage Patch was found to be from large fishing nets. There is NO SUCH THING as “sustainable fishing”)

A few more facts, just for dramatic effect:

  • 13 million tonnes of plastic are dumped/leaked into our oceans annually
  • 500 billion disposable bags are used every year
  • 50% of consumer plastics are single-use
  • 83% of tap water has been found to contain plastic particles
  • 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic every year
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of plastic each year

I’m not just trying to scare you with facts here (ok I kinda am), but I just want to share some information and put some thoughts into your minds. Until a few months ago, I was not really aware of these things, and I wish that I had known just how serious the plastic problem is sooner than I did.

Next time you find yourself thinking about how plastic-free/zero-waste alternatives are less convenient (i.e. washing and cutting your own un-packaged kale or having to carry around a reusable water bottle/coffee cup), try to remember that convenience at the expense of the planet is not convenience at all. 

Stay tuned for more Earth Day themed posts throughout the week! I’m super excited about sharing more about something that I am passionate about.

xx. Jenna

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