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Plastic is everywhere around us. From computers to cars, bottles to clothing, humans use plastic for almost everything. In fact, in the last decade plastic has become so popular that from 2002-2012 humans produced more plastic than they did in the entire 20th century! Can you believe that?
With over 300 million tons of plastic now produced each year, it is obvious that humans are addicted to plastic. While some plastic products are essential in our day-to-day lives, others, such as single-use or disposable plastic products, are not essential and are placing an enormous strain on our environment.
Plastic waste is a huge problem because it never really goes away. Plastic does not biodegrade like other organic materials such as wood and paper. Instead, over time plastic just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. Because of this, every single piece of plastic ever made is still present today in one form or another.
The environmental impacts resulting from the accumulation of plastic waste are increasing every day. Each year over 100,000 marine animals and one million birds die from ingesting and choking on plastic. Plastics are also responsible for leaching harmful chemicals such as DDT into our soil and groundwater that are then consumed by humans and wildlife, causing illnesses and in some cases, death. Additionally, plastic products emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases during their production phase, accelerating climate change and polluting the local air.
If we don’t address this problem soon, our use of plastic will continue to grow and the problems associated with it will escalate even faster.
How can you make a difference?
Even though recycling will play a critical role in reducing the amount of plastic in our landfills and environment, we use too much plastic for recycling to be the only solution. We have to cut back on the amount of plastic we produce and use.
The easiest way to do that is to stop using unnecessary plastic products such as bags and bottles. Instead we need to start using reusable bags, bottles, silverware, dishes, cleaning tools, and other products that are alternatives to plastic. It’s time to end our obsession with plastic and start protecting our environment.
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