The Plastics


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The Plastics Campaign

If we don’t change course, researchers warn, we could face wide-reaching consequences, including collapsing ecosystems and irreversible contamination of our planet.1 It’s clear that we need to stop producing and using the plastics that are flooding our oceans and killing its wildlife.

We dump the equivalent of one garbage truck’s worth of plastic into the oceans every 30 seconds.2 Most of this plastic won’t degrade for centuries, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t change over time. Plastics break down into smaller microplastics that spread everywhere, from Arctic ice and shellfish to table salt and drinking water.3

These plastic particles change as they weather — and here, researchers think, is where the damage can become irreversible. Ever-accumulating plastic in our oceans creates what researchers call “a global toxicity debt.” As that plastic breaks down, it can devastate already fragile ecosystems, accelerate climate change, alter habitats in every part of the ocean, and generally toxify our oceans.4

Since only 9% of all plastics ever get recycled, and since we have no effective way to remove much of the plastic in our oceans, there’s only one way to stop this crisis: We have to stop producing so much plastic.

What you can do:

  • Become aware of your own use of plastics and cut down as much as possible. If the markets shrink, manufacturers will produce less plastic. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestle are top plastic polluters5, so stop using their products. Avoid buying unnecessary plastic products like eating utensils. We create the markets!
  • Take reusable grocery bags to the store instead of using plastic bags.
  • Reuse plastic containers and bags.
  • Find out about plastic recycling in your area and which plastics are actually recycled. Right now, most recycling facilities simply hand off their plastics to someone else who hands them off to someone else until they ultimately get dumped in the oceans.
  • Look for biodegradable products that are now becoming available – like doggie poop bags and trash bags – and buy those products even if they are a bit more expensive.
  • Other ideas? Submit them here.

Thanks to Environmental Action for text and sources

  1. Daniel T. Cross, “Plastic waste could soon be causing ‘irreversible damage’ to the environment,” Sustainability Times, July 7, 2021.

  2. Andrew Forrest, Luca Giacovazzi, Sarah Dunlop, Julia Reisser, David Tickler, Alan Jamieson and Jessica J. Meeuwig, “Eliminating Plastic Pollution: How a Voluntary Contribution From Industry Will Drive the Circular Plastics Economy,” Frontiers in Marine Science, September 25, 2019.

  3. XiaoZhi Lim, “Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful?” Nature, May 4, 2021.

  4. Tim Radford, “Waste plastic deluge could soon prove irreversible,” Climate News Network, July 8, 2021.
  5. Karen McVeigh, “Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle named top plastic polluters for third year in a row,” The Guardian, December 7, 2020.
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