Ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Plastic to Stop Plastic Pollution In Our Oceans
Plastic, one of the top contributors to water pollution, sticks around for a thousand years or more than other forms of trash. The best thing to do to protect our water quality is to reduce plastic pollution first.
Plastic ain’t so fantastic. Since plastic was introduced in the 1950s, it slowly choked our bodies of water, poisoned our food and water supply, and posed a danger to the overall health of humans and wildlife all across the globe.
Here are a few alarming facts and figures about the current state of plastic pollution worldwide, according to Earth Day Network:
8.3 BILLION. To date, there are already 8.3 billion plastic items produced since the 1950s. Each year, the amount of plastic produced equals the entire weight of humanity.
91%. Of all the plastic waste produced, only 9% undergoes recycling. 91% of plastic waste is left to exist for thousands of years in the environment.
500 MILLION. In America alone, 500 million plastic straws are used each day. This amount of plastic straws, when put together, can circle the Earth two times.
- If the present trends continue, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. There will also be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills.
1 MINUTE. Every minute, there are nearly 2 million single-use plastic bags distributed all over the world, and 1 million plastic bottles bought.
With the seriousness of plastic pollution in the environment, we need to step up and do whatever we can to at least improve the situation. There are little ways we can do that will make a huge positive impact in the environment.
: to become diminished or lessened
To protect our oceans and the environment, here are ways on how to keep as much plastic away from the waste stream as possible:
- Stop the use of single-use plastic items such as shopping bags, plastic wraps, disposable food packaging, and plastic drinking straws. Switch to reusable bags, silverware, mugs, and non-plastic items instead.
- Swap microbead exfoliants with natural options like oatmeal or salt. Microbeads can easily slip and pass through water treatment plants and place marine animals and our bodies of water in great danger.
- Search for and shop in zero-waste stores that encourage customers to bring their own packaging and containers. Plastic packaging is a huge source of unnecessary waste that’s why it needs to be regulated.
- Shop in thrift shops for second-hand items. New items often come with plastic packaging and tags. To help the environment and your wallet, purchase secondhand items from garage sales and thrift stores.
- Keep utensils like cutlery and reusable straws handy for easy access when dining out or during travels. Today, there are a lot of stores selling reusable straws made from stainless steel, bamboo, and glass.
- Instead of using disposable plastic lighters, use matches. Disposable plastic lighters will only add to the plastic waste sitting in landfills. Matches, on the other hand, are often made from biodegradable materials.
- When buying fruits and vegetables, return the plastic containers so they can be reused. Ask your local grocer not to wrap your purchased goods in plastic bags too. Simply bring your own container and bag.
- When possible, use reusable and washable cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. Besides saving a lot of money in the long run, you’ll reduce your child’s carbon footprint and plastic waste as well.
- Stop buying plastic-bottled water. Bring your own tumbler and refill it. Besides reducing plastic waste, you’ll save a lot too. You can also filter your tap water at home so you won’t need to buy water anymore.
: to use again especially in a different way or after reclaiming or reprocessing
To reuse means to find another use for an item you might not need anymore. To reduce plastic pollution, here are creative items made from reused plastic that you can also DIY for your home:
: to process something in order to regain material for human use
Plastic recycling is the process of recovering any type of plastic waste and reprocessing them into useful products. Through recycling, the amount of plastic in the waste stream is reduced. More than that, it can lower the rate of plastic pollution. Unfortunately, not all countries have the resources and capacity to recycle plastic.
The plastic recycling process follows a step by step process, namely, collection, sorting, shredding, cleaning, melting, and pellet making. Tons of scrap plastic are collected and sorted by content and color. After that, they are shredded into tiny chunks or flakes before cleaned to remove remaining dirt or contamination.
After the scrap plastic flakes are cleaned and dried, they are melted down and processed into granules. Then, these plastic granules are compressed into tiny resin pellets called nurdles. The scrap plastic turned pellets will then be transported to plastic manufacturing companies to be redesigned into new items or products.
When plastic waste is not recycled, they can block drainages and waterways which often results in water pollution. Through recycling plastics, the amount of plastic waste in landfills is reduced.
The process of recycling plastic waste also requires less energy, time, and money as compared to manufacturing plastic from scratch. To support plastic recycling, you can donate plastic waste such as plastic containers, toys, shower curtains, disposable cutlery, plastic cups, caps, and straws, and the like to recycling centers.
“There is no such thing as ‘away.’ When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere,” says Annie Leonard, an American proponent of sustainability. True enough, any trash we throw away, specifically plastic, doesn’t really disappear. It goes somewhere else. It pollutes our soil, air, and bodies of water, and puts everyone’s health at risk.
Let’s do something about plastic and water pollution. It’s not too late if we only act today!
Author Bio: Floralyn Teodoro is a writer of all sorts working for CWR Enviro and other websites. A few of her interests are sustainable living, traveling, and poetry.