This month’s #NoFilter series is focusing on July’s Plastic Free Beach Month, to bring awareness to the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the ocean.
The Origin of Plastic Waste
According to Laura Parker’s article on National Geographic, plastics made from fossil fuels are just over a century old. Production and development of thousands of new plastic products accelerated after World War II, so transforming the modern age that life without plastics would be unrecognizable today.
The conveniences plastics offer, however, led to a throw-away culture that reveals the material’s dark side: today, single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year.
Hard Facts About Plastic Production
- Half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years.
- Production increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Production is expected to double by 2050.
- Scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
- Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
- Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.
Efforts Toward Sustainability
Over the years, several advocates have spoken to leaders, industries, and brands to incorporate sustainable efforts to combat environmental waste. Some systems and industries that lead to such waste include:
- Luxury fashion brands, some of which would burn or destroy their clothes to keep their price and demand up.
- Beauty brands, who up until recently had products that couldn’t properly be recycled due to the material makeup of their packaging.
- Marketing tactics that trick the customer into buying more of a certain item or items they may not need in the moment (a trendy product, fast-fashion, etc.), and thus adding into overall consumer waste.
How You Can Help
When we last spoke about going plastic free, it was during early July with Clean Beaches week.
But Plastic Free July is an expanded, global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them. But here are a few small ways you can make an impact in your everyday life towards reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Minimizing your overall consumption goes a long way. By reducing impulse buying and avoiding disposable products, you can mitigate your contribution to plastic waste.
With the rise of sustainability, some people are opting to buy bulk or loose foods and reusing containers.
Others are thrifting more often to extend the life of clothes and combat against fast fashion. Reusing bags, boxes, and other items can also help reduce plastic waste.
Editor’s Note: I thrift a lot of my clothes and also sell or closet swap with my friends the ones I can’t wear! This helps us avoid overshopping and find some great unique pieces that have lasted at least one person’s wardrobe. My favorite find is silk tops!
Along with cleaning up after yourself at the local beach, recycling is one of the best actions you can take towards a sustainable future. As more brands are making efforts to make their packaging recyclable, you and your fellow GLOSSIES can contribute too!
Remember our upcycle series? Steps like that count in the long haul towards a cleaner, greener Earth. For Plastic Free Month, take a moment to practice mindful reduction of plastic waste in your way.