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How to Reduce your Plastic Waste?

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

By Alice Schmid

Earth’s oceans cover more than 70 percent of our planet and are one of the most valuable natural resources for all life. Our oceans are so large and deep that, until recently, it was assumed that no matter the level of trash and chemicals dumped into it, the effects would be insignificant. We now understand how severe plastic levels in the ocean have increased and how the extreme consequences affect the water quality, sea wildlife, our food, and much more. 

Ocean Conservancy explained that about eight million tons of plastic are added to the total 150 million tons that are currently in marine environments every year. Plastics affect animals directly when they accidentally eat it and plastic gets passed up the food chain as larger animals digest smaller ones who already have plastic in their system. During an interview with a SeaWorld employee, she explained that in her opinion, half of the 1,400 animals they rescue each year are affected by plastics. National Geographic wrote, “debris works its way up the food chain from microscopic bugs to the most iconic animals like whales, which along with many types of fish eat plastic thinking it’s food.” But sea life aren’t the only animals that end up with plastic in their system. According to Ocean Conservancy, more than 80% of all seabirds mistake plastic for food. 

So what can you do? National Geographic explained ways to help with plastic pollution in the ocean, “...buying in bulk and avoiding items packaged in plastic also helps, since about 40 percent of non-fiber plastics are created from single-use packaging. Recycling when possible and not littering also cut down on plastic pollution.” You can also help out with a beach clean up, or organize your own. You can try to stop using plastic bags, straws, and other unnecessary plastic items. Try using a reusable water bottle to help reduce the number of plastic bottles you use or even purchase a metal straw. You can also stop using plastic silverware and plates to help reduce the number of plastics you throw away. Also, bring your own bags to the grocery store, and your own reusable cup when you purchase beverages. Buy cotton or wool clothing instead of fleece (which is made from polyester, a plastic). This will help reduce the amount of plastic fibers that are put into the air when you wash and dry your clothes. One easy way to help reduce your plastic use is to use reusable plastic lunch bags or biodegradable lunch baggies. If everyone would do a few small things a couple of times a day to help reduce the number of plastics, we would be one step closer to creating a cleaner, healthier world.

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