Did you know humanity now produces roughly its own weight in plastic every year? Did you know American’s alone use over 500 million straws a day? Did you know the average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year?
So, what are the negative effects of plastic pollution and what are some ways we can help reduce this problem?
For the last 50 years, the consumption of plastics has continued to rise all over the world. Experts say by the year 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the ocean is said to be 3 times the size of France. Plastic pollution is also incredibly toxic to human health. Did you know babies are born pre-polluted? In other words, babies are polluted at birth. (For more information visit: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/babies-are-polluted-at-birth-new-report-says/625/). Also, the plastic packaging on all our favorite grocery store items can contain up to 148 unknown toxins – toxins that eventually wind up in landfills or the ocean.
Basically, the more plastic we use – the more toxins we invite into our homes, our bodies, and our environment. Not only do we want to be aware of the relevance of chemical exposure to our health, but also take important steps to reduce that exposure. Dr. Leo Trasande, co-director of Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center explains “There are some safe and simple steps that a family can [take] to limit exposure to chemicals in the environment. They can make sure their home doesn’t have lead-based paint hazards, they can limit their consumption of methylmercury in some fish, they can eat organic, they can limit spraying pesticides in homes, they can have their home tested for radon, they can make sure their water supply isn’t contaminated by arsenic etc.” In addition to Dr. Trasande’s recommendations, below are 10 more ways to help reduce plastic waste in your home and community!
- Carry reusable shopping bags – some businesses hand them out for free at events and several grocery stores sell them for around $1.00 Try keeping a bunch in the back of your car at all times!
- Give up bottled water – there are hundreds of stainless steel water or glass water bottle options all over the internet or at several local grocery stores.
- Carry a stainless-steel mug/thermos – if you go to coffee shops regularly, ask them to put your coffee in your mug/thermos instead!
- Give up plastic straws – carry your own reusable straws or just nix them from your lifestyle completely.
- Return any berry, cherry tomato, or other plastic containers to your local farmer’s market for the farmers to reuse!
- Buy milk from a local source – they usually come in glass containers instead of plastic.
- Research homemade shampoos, deodorants, and toothpaste to place in glass containers instead of buying plastic bottled toiletries.
- Pick up reusable snack bags and sandwich bags from Amazon!
- Replace all your plastic containers with reusable glass containers.
- Put your recycling bin to use! Look up all the things your local recycler’s take and make sure to recycle as many things as you can.