In this article, we will discuss a continuing problem for our planet and our own lives—the pervasiveness of plastics, especially single-use plastics. Approximately 8 million metric tons of plastics end up in our oceans each year. If that wasn’t bad enough – of that amount, 236,000 tons are microplastics. Tiny pieces that are easily ingested by sea life. There are five massive floating garbage patches. The great pacific garbage patch is the size of Texas.
The total amount of plastics pouring into our oceans will have increased ten times in the last decade. To show how horrifying the increasing amount of plastic each year dumped into our oceans is – by 2050, there will be more plastics by weight than fish in our oceans. The thought that plastics were floating on the surface is not correct. Plastics are miles deep in our waterways. Many marine species can’t digest the plastics they eat, so they end up starving to death.
Our coral reefs are in jeopardy for many reasons. A coral has an 89% chance of dying after coming into contact with plastics. It is not only bad for the coral but since 25% of marine species live in coral reefs, it is even worse than that. It’s not all about marine life. Even if you don’t care what happens to the sea creatures, please be selfish and understand that when they eat these plastics and the microplastics, that same material could end up on your dinner plate.
A test off Monterey Bay in California found plastics in every red crab tested, every giant larvacean, and so many more marine species. The Great Garbage patch I mentioned has more plastic than prey species. It is not sustainable. So what can be done? What can we do as individuals and local communities? First, we as individuals have got to change our bad habits – and I know many have and are trying. We need to end single-use plastic use. Things like plastic straws are easy to stop using. You could play the quiz at the end of this episode for a chance to win our Wimmer’s Wilderness Reusable/Retractable straw for free. This one act in the United States alone would be monumental. Approximately 500 million straws get used each day. That is 182.5 billion straws a year in the United States alone.
So what does that look like – what does 500 million straws mean? Five hundred million straws could fill over 127 school buses each day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year! Eliminating single-use straws is an easy first step to tackling single-use plastics. If successful, it can show how we, as a society, can change our behavior. Plastic straws are but one item whose use must end. Eliminating straws alone will not end the disastrous plastics flowing into our oceans, lakes, and streams, but it is a crucial measure to see who we are as people.
If we can’t change a straightforward activity, then we are doomed. Plastic straws are a symbol of our convenience first & throw it away society. If we can end the single-use plastic straw, it will help the environment for sure. Still, the more significant impact will be governments and businesses knowing that our country can improve.
So what to do at the local level? Have your community end the use of single-use plastic straws. Many organizations are doing just that. Restaurants need to put an end to this wasteful and harmful practice. If some say it infringes on their freedom – say you want to ensure everyone’s freedom to live for generations to come.