Would You Visit a Plastic-Filled Ocean?

Source: Bonnie Monteleone

It is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Many pounds of trash enter the ocean every day, and one way we can help that problem is to reduce our consumption of plastic. 

Unfortunately, plastic is used as packaging for so many items. Even for things that would be completely fine without it. But since it’s such a wide epidemic, people keep purchasing it and it keeps polluting our earth. When it comes down to asking ourselves whether or not we can truly help the reduction of plastic pollution, the truth is this: many people do everything they can to use less plastic or recycle, but if companies made the transition between plastic packaging on their items to something else, most of the problem would be eliminated. Also, not many people are aware of the fact that about 90% of plastic that we put into recycling bins is actually not recycled. 

I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos on people trying to shop as waste-free as possible or even better, completely waste-free. But for some people, it’s unfortunately impossible to make a complete elimination. Some stores, like the stores I’m surrounded by, package almost everything. I can probably get away with buying a couple pieces of fruit here and there, but everything I need to make my actual meals are packaged. 

Plastic water bottle caps. Source: Mary Ellen Croteau 

When we break it down into what we can actually put on a typical sandwich, it comes to this: 

Meat = packaged in a container. 

Cheese = packaged in slices. 

Condiments = packaged in plastic bottles. 

Pre-sliced bread = packaged in plastic wrap. 

So, for even the most basic sandwich, many people can’t find what they need and are only left with an actual loaf of bread that’s not sliced. And sometimes even that’s not the easiest to find. 

Now, I’m going to make a list of the switches you can actually make starting today to do what you can. Sometimes it’s about the effort rather than critiquing every little purchase you make. 

  • Purchase a reusable water bottle to carry around with you wherever you go. Fill it up at water-filling stations (there’s beginning to be more and more of those now) or in your sink. There are a lot of water bottle brands out there, but one good one is Brita. It basically has its own water filter inside it. 
  • Pick up more items like loose fruits and veggies at the grocery store for your sides. This will help make your meals healthier anyways. 
  • Buy your ice cream in a cone so it’s disposable and leaves no single-use plastic trace behind. 
  • Refuse plastic straws and plastic cutlery when you’re out and about. Instead, bring your own reusable metal or bamboo straw with you wherever you go and bring reusable utensils. You have the option of purchasing a package of bamboo utensils for a reasonable price, or you can even just bring along the cutlery you use at home. I am a student currently, so I find that it’s best to stick my reusable items in my backpack. 
  • Refuse single-use plastic coffee cups. Instead, bring your own reusable cup along. Some coffee businesses, like Starbucks, gives you a discount if you bring your own cup. 
  • Go online-shopping less. The advantage of going in person to shops means that you won’t have to deal with a ton of packaging in your order. You can just directly take-home clothing items or books from the racks/shelves and not worry about plastic wrappings. 
  • When you pack your own lunch, refuse plastic zip-lock baggies. Instead, use a reusable lunch container with compartments to add your main entry and sides in. After use, you simply wash it.

Plastic pollution is a big threat to our environment and the creatures that live within it, but as many people make sustainable swaps in order to use less plastic, a big difference will be made. 

September 23, 2019 – Written by Shelbi Fisher

Sources: National Geographic, Washington Post