If you live in Connecticut, you may have noticed that plastic bags are no longer free at stores and food establishments! While this might be a nuisance if you forgot your reusable bags at home, it does make us stop and think about every day choices that impact the environment! If you’re interested in making other little changes in your life to reduce plastic usage, keep reading!
How does plastic affect the seas?
If you take a walk down any beach, you are sure to find at least one piece of litter. Plastic is becoming prevalent across beaches and oceans worldwide. By the year 2050, plastic is expected to outweigh fish in the sea. Plastic pollution can effect wildlife in many different ways. Many seabirds, turtles. and marine mammals are killed every year by ingesting or getting tangled in plastic. Today, plastic is made so durable that it is almost impossible to breakdown, meaning that every piece of plastic made still exists.
Why do we care?
The seas are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world other than rainforests, like the Amazon. Biodiversity is important by boosting
ecosystem productivity by giving every creature an important job. A healthy ecosystem can help protect water resources, store and recycle nutrients, breakdown pollution, stabilize climate, and aid recovery from natural disasters. People are also fascinated by visiting areas of high biodiversity to take a look at all the amazing animals and habitats. This helps contribute to the economies of local areas that rely on ecotourism as a main source of income.
On a more basic level, we require air, water, food, medicine, and stable climates. Healthy oceans support all of these fundamental needs. Oceans generate half of the oxygen people breathe and contain 97% of all the water in the world. Oceans also provide a large amount of protein for many people. The sea also helps to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which lessens the impacts of climate change. So whether you’re an avid diver or just enjoy living life on land, the oceans are very important for survival!
Does using less plastic actually make a difference?
It might seem that just one person using reusable bags instead of plastic bags can’t really mak
e that big of a difference, but it does! About 50% of plastics are only used once, including bottles, bags, and straws. This means that all this plastic takes up space in landfills or ends up as litter. It’s estimated that humans throw out enough plastic every year to circle the Earth four times! Physical pollution isn’t the only issue. A lot of resources goes into creating plastic, for example drinking from a plastic water bottle takes 2,000 times the amount of energy than drinking from the tap. So by reducing our plastic usage, we save energy, land, and living organisms!
How can I reduce my plastic usage?
Here are five ways you can make simple changes to reduce everyday plastic usage!
- Bring your own reusable straws and cups! Using reusable straws has become quite a trend, but it really does help! You can find straws made of many different materials like glass, silicone, and metal, and in all sorts of colors!
- Instead of using plastic wrap, use reusable wrappers made of cloth or beeswax. The average student throws away about 67 pounds of lunch trash each year, so if we reduce the amount of plastic we are putting into lunches, hopefully we can reduce this number!
- If you don’t live in a state with a plastic ban, it might be easy to just use the free plastic bags available at the store, but reusable bags are so much better for the environment! 100 billion plastic bags are used every year in the US. That is a lot of plastic!
- Buying in bulk or avoiding products that come in plastic containers are also great ways to reduce plastic usage. For example, use bar soap and shampoo bars instead of liquid soaps!
- Recycle! Even though most of us have been told to recycle since elementary school, about only 9% of all plastics in the US are recycled. Learn what can and can’t be recycled and encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same!