You can do something about plastic trash by picking it up.
You can go solo or organize a cleanup with friends.
Plastic waste cleanup:
- Reduce plastic bag usage: Encourage the use of reusable bags and promote bag-free shopping practices. Many stores and cities have implemented fees or bans on single-use plastic bags to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags. A cloth bag lasts for years and only costs $3.
- Proper disposal: Ensure plastic bags are disposed of properly, ideally in designated recycling bins or programs specifically designed to handle plastic bags.
- Recycling: Support recycling programs that can transform plastic bags into other useful products, such as composite lumber or new plastic products.
- Public awareness: Raise awareness about the environmental impact of plastic bags and the importance of reducing their usage and properly disposing of them.
Things to know:
- More than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide in 2019, with sales expected to increase to over 583 billion by 2021.
- Only about 30% of plastic bottles are currently recycled globally, with the rest ending up in landfills, incinerated, or littering the environment.
- It takes around 450 years for a plastic bottle to fully decompose in the environment, and even then, it only breaks down into smaller plastic particles known as microplastics.
- 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year, and plastic bottles are a significant contributor to this pollution.
- It takes around 3 liters of water to produce a single 1-liter plastic bottle, including the water used in the manufacturing process and in filling the bottle.
- Recycling just one plastic bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for up to six hours.
- Plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be recycled into a variety of products, including new bottles, fiberfill for jackets and sleeping bags, and carpeting.
- The average American consumes around 167 plastic water bottles per year, and the average European consumes around 100.
Plastic bottles take 450 years to degrade.
Trash from the ocean washes up on the beach like this
Picture of golf course in Pebble Beach, CA. How many golf balls get hit into the ocean?
- Golf courses should implement measures to prevent golf balls from ending up in the ocean or nearby water bodies, such as installing nets or barriers to catch stray balls.
- Golfers can be more conscious of their impact on the environment and take care not to hit balls into water bodies or dispose of them improperly.
- Eco-friendly golf balls made of biodegradable materials can be used to reduce the environmental impact. These balls break down more quickly and release fewer harmful substances into the environment.
- Cleanup efforts can be organized to remove golf balls from the ocean and coastal areas, mitigating their impact on marine ecosystems.
Golf balls in the water and ocean are a problem for marine animals.
Polluting golf courses
Wear gloves to protect yourself from cuts and germs.
Gather plastic and other trash into a bag and then dispose of properly.
Campgrounds at national parks have plastic trash containers like these:
Camper below is picking up and packing out trash.
- Plastic is made from fossil fuels.
- Billions of pounds end up in ocean every year.
- 25 million pieces of plastic trash in worlds oceans.
- A great plastic patch is in north central pacific ocean.
- 60% of all seabirds have ingested some plastic.
- The US leads the world in plastic waste generation of 42 million tons.
- 2% of all plastic produced ends up in the ocean.
Plastic plates and forks like these are convenient for camping. Make sure not to leave a mess.
Sign reminding you to take your rubbish with you.
- More than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, with around 60% of that plastic now in landfills or the natural environment.
- Around 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year, with half of that plastic used for single-use items such as packaging, bottles, and straws.
- Plastic waste can take hundreds of years to decompose in the environment, with even small particles known as microplastics causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems.
- Plastic pollution harms wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, with animals such as sea turtles, whales, and birds particularly vulnerable.
- Microplastics: As plastic waste breaks down into smaller particles, it creates microplastics, which are tiny fragments of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size. Microplastics are easily ingested by marine animals, and they can also absorb and transport toxic chemicals. This poses a threat to marine life and can lead to the contamination of the food chain, potentially affecting human health.
- Leaching of toxic chemicals: Plastic waste can release harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, into the environment. These chemicals can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing risks to both wildlife and human health.
- Aesthetic and economic impact: Plastic pollution is an eyesore on beaches, in cities, and in natural environments. It can also have economic consequences, affecting industries such as tourism, fishing, and shipping.
This campsite is messy. Note all the plastic bottles lying around. It looks bad.
It only takes a minute to pickup trash you find while hiking on an outdoor trail.
Take responsibility for your own pollution
You can have fun on a family outing cleanup up plastic beach trash.
Plastic bags in lakes and ocean are very bad for animals due to entanglement and ingestion.
You can do your part to help cleanup. Thanks a ton.
This EPA page has more info about the total number of tons of plastics generated.
Plastic bottles belong in landfill not under water.
Only 9% of plastics are recycled each year.
Q: Can’t marine animals just avoid the plastic? A: Avoiding plastic in the ocean these days is like trying to avoid trees in a forest. The ocean currents carry plastic waste into massive patches, some as large as Texas. That’s one uninvited guest you can’t easily avoid.
Q: Are certain types of plastic more harmful than others? A: In the world of marine pollution, all plastics are villains, but some are more villainous than others. Lightweight plastics like bags and straws can choke animals, while tiny microplastics are easily ingested.
Q: Is there any way to clean up this mess? A: There are efforts being made to clean up plastic from the ocean, but it’s like trying to mop up a spilled milkshake with a toothbrush. The most effective solution is to stop plastic at the source – which means reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Q: How can I help reduce marine plastic pollution? A: Start by reducing your own plastic consumption. Choose reusable items over disposable ones, participate in beach clean-ups, and support policies and companies that are working to reduce plastic waste. Every bit helps. Remember, even Superman started small.
Q: What’s the deal with microplastics? A: Microplastics are like the ninjas of marine pollution – small, stealthy, and dangerous. They’re tiny bits of plastic less than 5mm in size that end up in the oceans from various sources. Their small size means they can be ingested by a wide range of marine creatures. Not the kind of sprinkles you want on your ice cream!
Q: Can marine plastic pollution affect human health? A: It sure can. Like an annoying relative, plastic has a way of showing up where it’s not wanted. Small marine creatures eat microplastics, bigger creatures eat those small creatures, and then humans eat the bigger creatures. It’s like the world’s worst game of ‘tag, you’re it’.
Q: Are all countries equally responsible for marine plastic pollution? A: Well, it’s not a contest anyone wants to win, but no, not all countries contribute equally. Countries with poor waste management systems or rapidly growing economies tend to contribute more plastic pollution to the oceans.
Q: Is there anything being done at a global level to combat marine plastic pollution? A: Yes, there are numerous initiatives by international organizations, governments, and NGOs to tackle this issue. It’s like a global block party, but instead of bringing casseroles, everyone’s bringing solutions to reduce plastic waste.
Q: How can businesses help reduce plastic pollution? A: Businesses can play a huge role by reducing packaging, using alternative materials, and encouraging recycling. Plus, consumers appreciate businesses that care about the environment. It’s a win-win!
Q: What are ghost nets? A: Ghost nets sound spooky, and they kind of are. They’re abandoned or lost fishing nets that continue to trap and kill marine life. They’re like zombie nets, continuing to do damage long after they’ve been forgotten.