I consider the use of plastic products the #1 environmental sin. I especially have a pet peeve about plastic beverage bottles. Every time I see someone taking a sip of water out of one I have to stop myself from grabbing it out of their hands. I will refuse a plastic water bottle at a restaurant, a friend’s house or on an airplane when it is offered to me. I know the damage it does to the environment and to our personal health. But judging by the fact that Americans alone used approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, not everyone does.
What you may not know about plastic
- Few things last forever but plastics do. They cannot biodegrade which means the 30 million tons of plastic Americans discard each year, of which only 8 percent gets recycled, pile up in landfills. In the words of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest.
- In the case of plastic, recycling is a misnomer. It’s really downcycling, which breaks down the materials that can be recycled but when it comes to plastic, still leaves waste.
- Plastic bags that are thrown into the ocean kill over a million sea creatures a year. Plastic now outnumber sea life 6–1 !
- Sunlight can break down plastic in the ocean into toxic microbeads that are then ingested by fish and which may ultimately wind up on your dinner table. Using plastic is a form of poisoning ourselves.
- Americans will use over two and a half million plastic bottles every thirty minutes, and most of them are simply thrown away rather than recycled.
- Plastic is made from oil. We use 17 million barrels of it each year or 8% percent of the world’s oil production to create something that harms the environment and our physical well-being.
- Plastic contains BPA, a toxic chemical that has been linked to hormone and endocrine system disruption as well as increased risk for cardiovascular disease, breast and prostrate cancer, early puberty, obesity, diabetes, infertility, erectile dysfunction and learning and attention-related disorders. Studies show that 93 percent of Americans six or older test positive for this chemical! Sadly, because these chemicals are seeping into our bodies, even babies are being born with traces of BPA in their systems.
Six years ago, I set a green intention for myself and refused to buy anymore plastic water bottles for my household. I choose glass over plastic, use cloth bags when I go food shopping and keep a closet full of reusable water bottles for my family to grab when they are on the go. I choose paper straws over plastic and refuse plastic spoons and forks. I do this out of respect for our environment and for the personal environmental health of myself and my family. It’s part of my living with a green heart philosophy, something I share with people like Jaden Smith who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Captain Planet Awards in December. He was receiving an award for his pioneering efforts in creating Just Water, which sells spring water that is “responsibly sourced, produced and packaged for improved environment and community impact “ in recyclable bottles that are made out of paper and plant-based plastic.
At a time when it’s clear our government will do less instead of more to protect our personal and physical environment the one thing I know I can do is help to spread the awareness of these toxicities. I can also take small steps every day that will help to heal our planet and save it for future generations, like refusing plastic and choosing sustainable options like Just Water. Will you join me?
For more information on how to live plastic free, visit the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
Originally published at medium.com