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The Problem with Plastic and Ways You Can Kick it to the Curb

The Problem with Plastic and Ways You Can Kick it to the Curb

– by Margaux J Rathbun

About a month ago, I saw something in my Facebook newsfeed that stopped me in my tracks. It was a video that showed disturbing images of what is being called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Maybe you’ve seen this viral video too! Essentially, this garbage patch has turned into a massive island full of plastic and it is now THREE times the size of France. Let that sink in for a minute. Do you know how much plastic waste that would take to create something so big? According to a study published in Scientific Reports, this garbage patch contains at least 79,000 tons of discarded plastic and covers an area of about 617,800 square miles (that’s 1.6 MILLION square kilometers). Worst of all, this size of this patch is increasing exponentially.

This video got me thinking about how much plastic waste we as consumers use every year. From bags to bottles, plastic is everywhere! Sure, the advent of plastic containers originally meant convenience and easier accessibility to foods that we take with us on-the-go. But is this convenience really worth sacrificing our oceans?

Garbage on the beach

Not only is plastic contributing to polluting our oceans, it’s hurting marine life as well. Sea turtles often mistake plastic waste as a source of food which causes blockages in their digestive system. Fish are increasingly at risk for breathing in microscopic plastic debris while whales and dolphins develop plastic obstructions in their stomachs, leading to punctures and tears. Even sea birds are being impacted by all of our plastic waste. An estimated 98 percent of albatross that were studied were shown to have some kind of plastic debris inside of their bodies. How sad is that?

All of these scary statistics were enough for me to become mindful of the amount of plastic that I use on a regular basis. I love animals (especially marine life) and the last thing I want to do is contribute to the pollution of our oceans! I spent hours researching ways that I could reduce waste and help to protect the environment. Obviously, the simplest way is to recycle plastic (and everything else) like crazy. My family and I have done this for many years but I will be the first to admit that sometimes a plastic bag or bottle makes its way into our main garbage can. The sad thing is that it will take these items up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill! Once I saw this statistic, I felt instantly guilty! So in order to stop this from happening, I created a little list of five easy ways we can ALL reduce the amount of plastic in our lives. If we make the effort to incorporate these tips into our daily routine, we can all contribute to protecting our oceans, wildlife, and planet.

picking up plastic waste on the beach

Five Tips to Go Plastic-Free:

  1. Ditch that Baggage: Your plastic baggage, that is! When you go to the grocery store, make sure you bring reusable totes instead of using the plastic bags provided by the store. If you keep forgetting to bring your bags in with you (and who hasn’t) keep your tote right next to your car keys so you won’t forget them on your next trip!
  2. Breakup with Plastic-Bottled Beverages: The good news is that this step is becoming increasingly easier as big beverage companies are wising up to the dangers of containing their products in plastic bottles. If you are purchasing a drink to bring with you on the go, select one that comes in a glass bottle. If you find yourself drinking more than one “fizzy water” drink every day, you may consider in purchasing a soda maker for your home. This will save you time, money, and ultimately help reduce waste caused by purchasing pre-bottled beverages.
  3. Forget Frozen Foods: Sure, purchasing pre-packaged frozen foods can be super convenient! But if you think about it, the majority of frozen foods are contained in some sort of plastic container. By letting go of eating frozen foods, you are not only reducing waste but you are taking steps to nourish your body with healthy, fresh foods! It’s a win for you and a BIG win for our planet!
  4. Make a Trip to the Market: The farmers market, that is! Not only is it super important to support our local farmers, most of the items that they sell are organic and free from any type of packaging! Bring your favorite Farmer’s Market tote with you and have a blast buying tons of produce free from the excess of plastic packaging.
  5. Support Companies that Invest in Sustainability: It would be a lie to say that we could totally reduce the waste from product packaging in our lives…at least it would be pretty challenging! When you do need to purchase a product that comes in a container, support the companies that take the time to use sustainable packaging. GREEN NUTRITIONALS only uses packaging that is 100 percent recyclable. Their commitment to using LOCTEC packaging is part of their overall goal to nourish customers while reduce the amount of plastic that pollutes our bodies and our planet. Learn more here.

Clean Ocean wave