Getting rid of plastic is maybe the first step to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
If you want to live a more plastic-free life or reduce your reliance on plastic, then it’s important to understand the global scale of the problem.
Why is plastic harmful?
Plastic has been very helpful to us on a number of levels, it’s cheap, flexible, and durable but less than a hundred years since it was introduced it has unleashed a huge number of problems that are now threatening our environment and the way we live.
- Plastic doesn’t ever bioegrade. It breaks into smaller and smaller microplastics which end up in our waters, fish and us where they can cause hormonal and other changes.
- Chemicals leach out of the plastic breakdown and affect our soil and waterways by leaving toxins.
- Marine animals and wildlife get caught in plastic waste and ingest smaller bits of it.
- Nearly all plastic is created by burning fossil fuels, contributing to climate change.
What’s the scale of the plastic problem?
Some useful plastic statistics to help you understand the scale of the plastic problem. It’s not just about what you do or buy, it’s about the millions and billions of us doing the same thing.
- 91% of plastic still exists in its original form – and hasn’t been recycled
- 1 million plastic water bottles are sold per minute globally
- Only 14% plastic packaging is recycled
- 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste alone
Where does ocean plastic come from?
Sadly microplastics are now found in every meter of the ocean, from the most remote beaches to the deepest explored parts of the sea bed.
Microplastics have also been found in icebergs, but where does all of our ocean plastic come from?
- 80% of ocean plastic comes from land based sources so from rivers and waterways including sewers that lead into the sea
- It can also include litter swept from beaches or coastal paths, agricultural plastic waste and rubbish blown out of landfil
- 20% of ocean plastic comes from plastic items used in the sea such as fishing nets and diving equipment, commercial shipping and oil platforms.
- In 2020, it’s thought there were 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in our ocean
If we don’t change, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation worked out that there would be more plastic in the sea by 2050 than fish (by weight).