It's no secret that we have a plastic problem. Still, the statistics are pretty staggering. Since 1950, we’ve produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic, 50% of which has been manufactured only in the last 13 years. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now three times the size of France, and has already engulfed a shocking 1.6 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean. And yet, even today only 9% of plastic is recycled globally. The rest is thrown into landfills, incinerated, or released directly into our environment.
Unfortunately, plastic is extremely harmful to coral reefs and marine animals. It's filling up our landfills, and taking over our homes. Plus, microplastics are showing up in more and more places, as the trash that's been released into our lakes, oceans, and streams begins to break down and degrade. How ubiquitous are these microplastics? A recent study found that 93% of bottled drinking water is now contaminated by plastic microfibers — yikes.
Still, the news isn't all dark. An increasing number of restaurants are supplying 100% compostable take-out containers. Stainless steel reusable water bottles have become all the rage. California has outlawed plastic bags, and 10 major U.S. cities are aiming to achieve zero waste status within the coming decades.
Industry is paying attention, too. You can now buy products ranging from sunscreen to shampoo made with 100% biodegradable ingredients shipped in compostable packaging. Reusable alternatives to traditional one-use plastics have become increasingly plentiful. And, innovative brands like Wolven have figured out new ways to repurpose and recycle plastic — making sure it doesn’t end up in landfills or anywhere near our favorite beaches. Even more exciting, you can now skip out on plastic altogether when you buy brand new Wolven Graphic Tees made from incredible carbon neutral wood pulp fibers. Yep! You can now shine bright in gorgeous recycled fabrics, move freely on the mat, and nix traditional synthetic fibers for good.
Want to do more to stop plastic and live green? Read these top 15 tips for decreasing your plastic footprint today.
Decrease Your Plastic Footprint in 15 Easy Steps
- Carry a reusable water bottle.
- Say no to plastic straws and cutlery by carrying your own reusable versions instead.
- Bring your own ceramic coffee cup to the café.
- Avoid excess food packaging by shopping at farmers markets.
- Avoid products that contain microbeads, and don’t buy anything with polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or nylon in the label.
- Use reusable produce bags, and bring your own reusable grocery bag to the store.
- Ask for a cone rather than a cup at ice cream stores.
- Cut out sodas, juices and all other plastic-bottled beverages from your diet. Opt for recyclable glass containers, or even brew your own kombucha!
- Buy fresh bread at the farmers market (or bake your own).
- Bring glass jars to the grocery store, and buy from the bulk bins (have your jars weighed at the register first).
- Clean your house with vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water makes a great all-purpose spray cleaner) instead of using toxic bleaches housed in plastic bottles.
- Use powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.
- Use natural scrubbers and cellulose sponges instead of synthetic sponges.
- Use bar soap instead of liquid soap.
- Choose biodegradable or eco-friendly lotions and lip balms stored in plastic free containers (like Avasol).
How to Change the World
If you're interested in learning more about plastic, its impact is on the human body, and how to fight this man-made disaster, I recommend watching A Plastic Ocean on Netflix, or heading to the film's website for an incredible list of amazing anti-plastic resources.
As is true with most environmental issues, the problem of plastic is large, but the power of human innovation (and the strength of our determination) is not to be underestimated. Mainstream consciousness is changing, and brands like Wolven Threads are leading the charge. Just because we have a plastic problem today, doesn’t mean we have to have a plastic problem tomorrow. Human problems need human solutions, and what was once a ripple of change is already becoming a wave. I feel galvanized and ready to celebrate green living, and thankfully I know that millions of people feel the same way.
Make tiny changes, celebrate your successes, and share your knowledge. The potential for radical change is real. The time to recreate our world is now. The power lies not in the group, but in every individual taking a stand for themselves and for the planet. What was once hard will become easy. What was once progressive becomes mainstream. A new normal arrives, and with it? HOPE.
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About the Author
Annie Katherine Martin
Annie is an activist, writer, environmental scientist, and yogi dedicated to environmental issues related to food, water, and agriculture. Her passions have led her around the world researching child malnutrition, the consequences of industrial farming, and successful soil remediation techniques. Today, Annie teaches yoga and works for a non-profit called Kiss the Ground, working to reverse climate change, transform international food supply chains, and create a more equitable world.