Plastics: we can’t live without them, or so it seems.
While using plastics in some cases may be unavoidable, we can take steps to reduce our constant consumption and discarding of the chemical-laced material.
The U.S. produces 234 pounds of plastic waste per person per year, and hardly any of it is recycled.
Here’s a comprehensive introduction to plastic waste and plastic pollution, how we got here, and what we can do about it.
Plastics are an untamed and unmanaged beast:
- More than 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, with an average “working life” of only 15 minutes
- 500 billion plastic bags are used annually—and that’s just plastic bags.
- Of all plastics the world has produced, only 9% of the nine billion tons has been recycled—most ends up in landfills, dumps, or in the environment.
- The ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025 and, by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).
- Studies suggest that the total economic damage to the world’s marine ecosystem caused by plastic amounts to at least $13 billion every year.
- If current consumption habits continue, we’re on pace to have discarded 12 billion tons of plastic waste into landfills and our environment by 2050.
How’d we get here?
Two marketing strategies employed by the plastics industry have successfully propelled plastic to regular household use:
- Promoting throwaway culture
- Creating eco-campaigns that shift blame to the individual.
These strategies, along with the lack of legislation preventing mass consumption, have caused single-use plastics to flourish.EHN