I never really thought about what I bought, the packaging in came in, or where it would go once I was done with it. Once I started getting more into “saving the planet”, I started to recycle. At my place, there’s this (ironically) plastic bin where we put all of our recyclables in, to later dump them in the larger, plastic bins downstairs. I always thought I was doing my part, I was really making a difference by recycling, but I came to the realization that I had been doing it all wrong and all of my “recyclables” were really going to the landfill. No liquids or food residue is allowed in the recycling or the whole lot is just trashed, just a heads-up. Now I realize, recycling isn’t even the answer. (Crazy, right.) There’s no need to buy all of these things just to attempt to recycle their packaging, when you can just go without the plastic packaging to begin with. It’s easier than one may originally think, and I’ll post a whole separate blog about going waste-free. The amount of plastic trash that we produce is pounds per day, an absurd amount.
The inspiration behind this post comes from an experience in Malaysia. The second or third day I had arrived this guy named, Iena, comes up to us and says that there hasn’t been a beach clean-up in a while and that we should do that. So, we all grab these big rice bags to fill with trash. I go out there and at first I just see a good amount of plastic bottles littering the seashore, which is to be expected honestly so I go about picking them up and three bags later almost all of the plastic water bottles are picked up. I go about my business and put the bags away when I realize everybody is still out on the beach picking up trash, and I go for my next round walking down the shore. The more I looked and the longer I picked up trash the more seemed to appear, smaller than before but definitely more. All the tiny plastics littered this beautiful tropical beach and no matter how much trash you picked up there was still more to be cleaned up. It hit me so hard and broke my heart because the amount of trash on that beach could have single-handedly been all just from me in maybe a day or two. There was no logical reason for me, one person, to be producing that much plastic waste in one shopping trip when a few adjustments can be made to almost eradicate the issue completely.
Some flabergasting statistics of the average westerners plastic consumption and trash goes as follows:
1. The annual plastic production and use of plastic has risen to 230 Million tons in 2009, and is probably nearly doubled today.
2. Over 6 million tons of plastic litter enter our oceans every year.
3. As much as 90% of floating debris in the ocean is plastics.
4. Research following a seabird (the Northern Fulmar) showed that
5. 85% of dead, beached birds had plastics in their stomachs.
6. Between 50,000 and 90,000 Northern Fur Seals are estimated to be dying every year due to entanglements in plastic trash.
7. More than 250 species are reported to have been entangled in, or to have ingested, oceanic plastic debris.
8. 35% of plankton-eating fish have been found with ingested plastics in their stomach.
(statistics are from Project Aware)
The average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash A DAY, and while the ocean may be big it can’t account for all of our waste. Plastics are an increasingly common problem in marine and sea life. Many animals are dying due to entanglements and ingestion of plastics. Think before you buy copious amounts of plastic packaging.