Fantastic AntiPlastic Classic
November 18, 2010
I found this in my mailbox this morning, from a group called Green Sangha, which has launched a Rethinking Plastics campaign. The website has found a creative way to remind us:
Shoppers worldwide are using 500 billion to one trillion single-use plastic bags per year.
This translates to about a million bags every minute across the globe, or 150 bags a year for every person on earth. And the number is rising.
Plastic bags are made from a non-renewable resource: oil!
An estimated 3 million barrels of oil are required to produce the 19 billion plastic bags used annually in California.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Plastic manufacturing’s air pollution contributes greatly to global “weirding” (extreme weather of all sorts) we are experiencing is the result.
Plastic is food for no one. It never completely breaks down.
We see bags hanging on trees, along the roadside, slipping down the storm drain, and floating in the ocean. Even when we do put them in the garbage, they don’t always make it to the landfill. 47% of landfill blow-away trash is plastic.
Manufacturing plastic releases toxins in the air, as does recycling plastic. The additives used in plastic are often toxic and can leach into our food. The surface of plastic is chemically attractive to some of the worst toxins in our environment (e.g., PCBs and pesticide metabolites).
Harm to Marine Life
More than 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, one million seabirds, and countless fish worldwide are killed by plastic rubbish each year.
Choking the ocean
Beaches on every continent are littered with plastic scraps and particles. In a recent surface trawl of the North Pacific Gyre, 46 pounds of plastic were found for every pound of zooplankton.
We’re eating plastic
Fine particles of plastic are taken in by filter-feeders in the ocean. These plastic-laden small creatures are then eaten by larger animals and plastics work their way up the food chain, all the way to our seafood menu.
And, yes, I still forget, often, to take a re-usable bag to the store. But efforts like this help me to remember that it makes a difference.