Why should we care about living plastic-free anyway?


We've all seen that video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. It's heartbreaking, right? But how many of us realize that plastic—and not just straws—is one of the biggest contributors to ocean pollution and marine life mortality?

Plastic can take over 500 years to decompose.

When you think of plastic, you might think that it’s something that can be thrown away and will decompose in a matter of days or weeks. Unfortunately, this isn’t true at all! Plastic takes decades to decompose and a lot of the time it never does. That means that if we keep on using disposable plastic products without recycling them and disposing of them responsibly, there could be significant environmental consequences.

Plastic is made from oil and natural gas – two non-renewable resources that are extremely difficult to replenish once they have been used up. When we use plastics like water bottles or bags with food products inside them, those materials aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They will just sit around our landfills until they are broken down into smaller pieces by microorganisms or scavengers who eat them (if they aren’t incinerated).

An estimated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste was generated in 2010, with only 10–13% of it being collected for recycling

Each year, an estimated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste is generated. Only 10–13% of it is collected for recycling. The rest ends up in landfills or polluting our oceans and waterways.

Many people don't realize how much waste they produce every day—or understand the consequences of throwing away single-use items like plastic bags and bottles. But when you take a closer look at what happens to your trash, it's clear why reducing your reliance on non-biodegradable materials matters: Over time, all that garbage adds up to a lot more than just a few extra trips outside!

A major source of microplastics is clothing made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester.

One major source of microplastics is clothing made from synthetic materials like nylon, polyester and acrylic. The tiny fibers can come off clothing when washed or worn—and just like that, they're in our waterways and air, on our beaches and in the bellies of marine life and birds. Even more alarming: Some research suggests that these microfibers are even being eaten by humans (or at least in their food).

If a fish ingests plastic, the toxins get into its body and build up over time. If we eat that fish, we ingest those same toxins.

Plastic is a persistent pollutant that can be toxic to marine life in multiple ways: it can leach chemicals such as phthalates that disrupt hormones; it can cause physical harm when animals ingest it or become entangled in it; and it can absorb toxins from the water. These effects are cumulative, meaning that when animals eat smaller fish who have eaten microplastics, they ingest greater concentrations of pollutants than they would have had they simply eaten their natural diet of plankton instead.

Plastic is also thought to mimic food sources like plankton for some species, which leads them to consume more plastic than they would consume otherwise (and thus increase their risk of death). This process has been described as bioaccumulation—the accumulation of substances within living organisms over time—and is observed with other harmful substances like mercury and DDT (a pesticide).

The fragments of plastic act like sponges for water pollutants and toxic chemicals. They absorb these toxins and carry them into the food web when ingested by marine life.

As plastic fragments break down, they take on water pollutants and toxic chemicals. The fragments then act like sponges for these toxins, absorbing them and carrying them into the food web when ingested by marine life.

Plastic is ingested by fish, which we eat. We’re eating plastic! It’s a strange thought to wrap your mind around, but it’s true: the environmental impacts of single-use plastics extend well beyond their use in packaging and disposables; they also impact our health as an entire human race.

Tiny microplastics also bind onto other chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are harmful to marine life even at low concentrations and bioaccumulate through the food chain.

Microplastics are also often contaminated with a variety of chemicals such as POPs, which are harmful to marine life even at low concentrations. POPs bioaccumulate through the food chain, meaning that animals higher up in the food chain can accumulate high levels of POPs within their body.

POPs can be ingested by marine life when they mistake microplastics as food. This means that even if you're using biodegradable plastic or only eating seafood caught in clean waters, it may still contain these harmful chemicals if those plastics have been washed into the water column by pollution runoff or other means.

While this is not necessarily something you should worry about on your own (unless you're regularly eating seafood), it's good to know that some kinds of plastic cannot truly be considered "biodegradable" since they can bind onto other chemicals and become toxic themselves when released into our environment during decomposition processes like composting.

Single-use plastic packaging is designed primarily for the convenience of the manufacturer, not for consumers or the planet.

The first step in living plastic-free is to understand that single-use plastic packaging is designed primarily for the convenience of the manufacturer, not for consumers or the planet. The reality is that manufacturers are not concerned with your health, nor will they ever be. They care about profits, which means making their products as cheap as possible and selling them at a price point that maximizes profits by appealing to our most basic instincts: we want things that taste good and look appealing, no matter what they're made out of. Because it's so easy to get swept up in this way of thinking—after all, who doesn't want tasty snack foods?—it's easy to forget that there are other options available if you're willing to do some digging around on social media or read some articles online (which I hope you've done).

Using less plastic reduces how much goes into landfills and our oceans.

By reducing how much plastic you use, you can help to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and the oceans. This will also reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our food, water and environment.

We hope this article has given you some food for thought on how we can all make changes to our lives that will benefit the planet. The more people who do it, the better, because this is an issue that affects us all! Whether it's using reusable shopping bags or taking your own coffee cup when going out for coffee, there are plenty of ways to start living plastic free.

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