Why I’m Anti-Recycling, World Oceans Day Post
Ok I’m not really anti-recycling – I’m pro recycling over throwing it away in the trash, and I’m definitely pro-recycling for more efficiently recycled materials (aluminum and glass). However, when it comes to plastic I think recycling is a crutch that makes us feel better about using a material that’s responsible for major pollution of our oceans.
Here’s the scoop:
Plastics are a major issue. During WWII a need for synthetic materials supported the growth and production of plastics. After the war, plastic production continued to surge and has been expanding ever since. In the last 70 years, over 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced globally.
Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean, or roughly 1 garbage truck full of plastic EVERY MINUTE. This plastic comes from many sources; it can be carried by the wind or washed into the storm drains by rainwater, eventually finding its way to the ocean. The problem here is that this plastic doesn’t go away, it’s not compostable, it just accumulates. Prime example: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive floating island of plastic that is THREE TIMES the size of France. YIKES. By 2050, it is estimated the oceans will contain more plastic by weight than fish. NOT OKAY PEEPS.
Over time, plastic will break down into micro-plastics, tiny particles less than 5 mm in diameter, that remain in our oceans, in our water systems, and in the food we eat.
Plastic in the ocean is a problem for a lot of reasons.
1) Plastic impacts over 800 species of marine animals and kills 1000s of seabirds, sea turtles, and other marine animals each year from ingestion or entanglement. Consumption of plastics can cause blockages of the digestive tract in sea turtles and whales, leading to death. In fish, micro-plastics have been shown to alter behavioral patterns, like ignoring the smell of predators.
2) You’re eating it too. It’s estimate the average person consumes more than 74,000 particles of plastic each year. The micro-plastics make their way up the food chain, are present in our bottled water, and are even in the air we breath.
3) It’s really freaking hard to clean it up and remove it from the open oceans, so the less we can continue to add to the problem, the better.
I know this isn’t so cheery to think about but here’s an uplifting thought – WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS! Awareness is already spreading – plastic bans are becoming more common, big companies like Starbucks have stopped using straws, and it’s becoming more hip to bring your to go cup with you. There are so many personal choices we can make each day that can contribute to less plastic pollution worldwide. In honor of World’s Ocean Day today, I’m sharing my top three ways to reduce your plastic use. I chose these 3 because they are easy, simple, and make a difference. I’m sure you’ve heard them before – but are you doing them? Here’s a nudge to start 🙂 I’ve also linked a few of my plastic reducing products below to get your started!
- REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE. Save money, save the planet – stop using plastic water bottles. Get your own, carry it with you. I keep one at my office, in my gym bag, and in my car so I know I always have one close. Be mindful of your other drink purchases as well – opt for drinks in aluminum cans or glass bottles instead of plastic ones.
- NIX TO GO COFFEE CUPS. If you’re meeting a friend for coffee or hanging out for a bit, make sure to request your coffee (or tea!) in a mug. On the go? Bring your to go mug with you. Bonus – most coffee shops will give you a discount! Forgot your cup? Say no to the plastic top and take your coffee topless – once you finish your drink give the cup a quick rinse and recycle the paper.
- GREEN GROCERIES: Ok so I’m sure you know you should be bringing your reusable bags with you (store em in your car or keep them by the door so you can’t forget!) but what about the plastic in the grocery store? Get reusable bags for your produce, buy in bulk when possible, and be mindful of how your food is packaged – can you get a similar product in less packaging or not wrapped in plastic (why are all cucumbers wrapped in plastic?!).
So I’m not really anti-recycling, I just think we need to focus more on reducing first. Less plastic, more reuse, recycling as a last option.
Thoughts? What actions are you taking to reduce your plastic use?