In 1950, 1.5 million tons of plastic was produced annually. By 2016 that figure soared to 320 million tons. The average person throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic every year. By the year 2034, it is estimated the annual plastic production will reach 640 million tons.
Plastic pollution has become a worldwide crisis. Very little amount of plastic is recycled and 90% ends up choking our oceans, lakes and rivers, hurting our marine and wildlife life and piling up on land. It's not only effecting the environment but creating long term health issues.
More government organizations aware of the problem have started implementing initiatives. We as individuals can also contribute in the fight against plastic pollution. Even the smallest change can make a difference.
Here are 8 simple ways to help reduce every day plastic consumption.
1. Bring your own shopping bag.
More than 500 billion plastic bags are produced annually with over one million used around the world daily. It is takes an estimated 500 or more years for a plastic bag to degrade. Unfortunately plastic bags don't break down completely and instead photo-degrade which means they continue to pollute the environment for many years to come. Always bring your own grocery bag (made of sustainable material) or a tote when doing the shopping.
2. Refuse plastic straws.
Today there is an estimated 7.5 million plastic straws polluting U.S. shorelines and around 437 million to 8.3 billion or more plastic straws found on shorelines around the world. Fortunately, a lot more companies are now becoming aware of the problem and offering eco-friendly alternatives. For home use, glass, bamboo or steel straws are now available.
3. Bring your own water bottle
Million and million of bottles of water are purchased every year. Every second of every day 1,500 plastic bottles are discarded. Americans alone send more than 38 billion water bottles to landfills every year. Instead of buying water in plastic bottles which cost money and inevitably adds to the plastic pollution crisis, carry your own water bottle. You can find many styles and choices made from sustainable material.
4. Avoid buying products in plastic.
Save money and protect the planet by make your own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda and essential oils in a recyclable glass container. Instead of buying shower gel in plastic bottle, go back to basics and use good old fashioned soap. Check out companies that offer re-filling services.
5. Decline plastic cutlery when ordering take-out.
It is estimated that close to 40 billion individual plastic utensils—that is 14 and 18 billion plastic spoons—are produced each year. With such low rates of reuse and recycling, most of them end up in our landfills, beaches and oceans where they are likely to remain for hundreds of thousands of years.
6. Curb the use of cling wrap.
Plastic food wrap is non-recyclable and most likely will end up on landfill or becoming litter on land and in the sea. On landfill it will sit and possibly leach its chemicals for years to come since it’s not degradable. In can also becomes a hazard to wildlife or fish who may get caught up in it or consume it. Beeswax food wrap is a great alternative or store food in glass containers.
7. Ditch disposable plastic razors
The EPA has estimated that there are at least 2 billion disposable razors thrown into landfill every year. You can save money and reduce waste build-up by choosing a straight blade or an old fashioned safety razor. These are made from steel and can last a lifetime. Best of all, razor blades are fully recyclable and are eco-friendly.
8. If it’s plastic, think twice
These are just 8 suggestions; there are so many more ways to help reduce plastic consumption. Plastic items are all around us. Everything from plastic toys to a multitude of household goods and supplies. It's in makeup, furniture and our clothes. Avoiding plastic at all costs is a near impossible task. We can however, be more mindful and think twice before purchasing a plastic item as you can always replace it with one that is made with more sustainable material.
Make every day, earth day!
The Ocean Cleanup organization develops advanced technologies to clean up plastic from the world's oceans. Once their systems are fully deployed, they estimate they can cleanup 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years.
The Ripple Effect
Every decision we make can cause a ripple effect. Whether it's bringing you own grocery bag or refusing a plastic straw, when more and more people make a conscientious effort, it all adds up to creating a more hopeful future for our planet.
At GingerChi we are committed to working towards more sustainable packaging and to reduce the amount of usage of plastic in our operations. This month we are pushing out the first of our new paper labels for the Women’s line of Nourish Oils.