The Plastic Pollution Problem: The amount of plastic in the ocean is worse than we thought
“More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.”
Plastic pollution is one of our generation’s key environmental challenges, and it’s a persistent issue that has shown negative impacts on wildlife, the ocean, climate change, and us. Most of the plastic trash in our oceans comes from discarded single-use plastic products such as: plastic water bottles, plastic straws, plastic grocery bags, plastic food containers, and more. Global plastic production has quadrupled over the past few decades, and if the trend continues, the making of plastics will comprise 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Plastic is a cheap product to make, but it comes at a high price to our environment. If you’re sad when you see stories of sea turtles with plastic straws stuck in their noses or stories of dead whales washing ashore with dozens of pounds of plastic in their bellies, there’s a good reason. The plastic problem is serious, and it will only get worse if things don’t change.
Recently, there has been an increase in public awareness of the plastic pollution issue, and movements such as Zero Waste that encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint are on the rise.
Even some of the world’s largest companies are now taking steps to reduce single-use plastics. Companies such as Starbucks and Disney are leading this trend by doing away with plastic straws. Unilever, Nestlé, and PepsiCo also recently announced plans to roll out reusable packaging for some of their products. America’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger, has joined the movement by announcing that it will divert 90% of its food waste from landfills by 2020 and eliminate plastic bags by 2025.
Ultimately, all major corporations and the government need to be held responsible, as our individual consumer choices are just a drop in the bucket of their waste creation. In many places, they’re trying, at least. The state of California has placed a limit on plastic straws and Washington D.C. has banned them entirely. However, change doesn’t happen overnight – it begins with one person sharing a blog post or making a commitment to live more consciously of their waste.
Let us inspire you to start living a zero waste lifestyle. It’s pretty easy to live more waste-free and plastic-free, you just need to know where to begin.
Kickstart your Zero Waste life with these basics:
- Reusable water bottles — Drink water and your favorite beverage out of a reusable bottle instead of a plastic one that will end up in the ocean. The best zero waste option is a stainless steel water bottle. You can find all kinds of water bottles here.
- Reusable grocery bags — Stop buying a plastic bag at the grocery store every time. A reusable shopping bag is fairly cheap and reduces plastic waste. Take a look at some reusable grocery bags here.
- Reusable metal straws — Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Invest in a metal straw. There are straws that come with cases and even ones that fold up to make it easy for you to carry into Starbucks. The turtles say thank you.
- Jars and canisters — The glass major jar is the iconic zero waste item. Use mason jars as soap dispensers, for storage, growing herbs, organizing your baking ingredients, holding drinks, snacks, cereal, and more. You can get them online, at the grocery store, or my favorite place to get them: the dollar store.
Tips for finding more zero waste products:
- Look for eco-friendly alternatives to your daily products. For instance, products that are biodegradable, have plastic-free packaging or are made of natural materials such as wood, glass, or metal.
- Go to Amazon and add one of the following words to your product search: natural, organic, eco, eco-friendly, plastic-free, zero waste, biodegradable, or compostable.
Stay on track with your zero waste efforts by joining an inspiring community doing the same thing.
There many zero-waste influencers on social media who can help you find your path to a waste-free life in a fun, creative way. Follow some of these Instagram accounts to be inspired by beautiful photography, colorful, package-free produce, natural fibers, transparent glass jars, and minimalism.
Kathryn Kellogg @going.zero.waste
She’s become a prominent name in the zero waste community by turning her personal health journey into inspiration for others to give up plastic and waste for their own health and that of the planet.
Anne-Marie Bonneau @zerowastechef
I feel like I could scroll through her feed all day. Anne-Marie Bonneau runs her kitchen with 3 rules: No packaging. Nothing processed. No trash. Her pictures are mostly food-based, and you’ll definitely be inspired by her beautiful spreads.
Jess With Less @jesswithless
Jess is the queen of sustainable fashion and minimalist style, helping others stay stylish and feel good without missing anything. Dig her simple style — and her cat — as a zero-waste influencer.
If you love clean, simple feeds, Celia’s Instagram will speak to you. Be inspired by the classic minimalist photography associated with zero waste. You can also find helpful posts about how to live zero waste on her blog.