There is a huge patch of plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
This image should remind us that a lot of what we consume is not degradable, and will stick around and harm others for hundreds or thousands of years – that’s how long it takes for plastic to biodegrade. Meanwhile, birds and fish mistake plastic for food, sea animals get trapped in it, and plastic ruins pristine ecologies by blocking sunlight, taking up space, and crowding beaches.
Furthermore, plastic is a fossil fuel. Plastic is made up of hydrocarbons, and is produced from natural gas processing and crude oil refining. So whenever you buy something with plastic, you’re purchasing a fossil fuel product that is not sustainable and is harmful to the planet before, during, and after consumption.
So what do ecologists do? Ban plastic. This helpful chart will get you started:
Here are some tips of my own:
- Don’t use anything with plastic microbeads. I’ll write a post later dedicated solely to microbeads, but for now you can look here to see the dangers that plastic microbeads cause to the environment. Microbeads are banned starting this year (2017). Let’s hope that all the products on the shelves of supermarkets do not carry microbeads, but keep your eyes peeled regardless.
- Never use plastic cups. You should own a water bottle and carry it with you at all times.
- Prefer products that are packed in cardboard and not plastic or styrofoam. For example, eggs and pasta are two products that can be found in both plastic or cardboard – choose the ecological option!
- Prefer glass tupperware over plastic. Plastic tupperwares wear down with time and get yucky. Glass stays fresh and is more easily recycled.
- Cut six-pack rings and anything net-like or mesh-like whenever you have to throw them out. Too many sea animals get trapped in plastic rings or nets.
- Don’t bash people that still use plastic. I feel obliged to say this because I’ve seen it too much. There’s a time and place for informing people in a kind and gentle way, when it doesn’t result in open criticism. For people to be open to new habits, they have to take it the right way. Getting angry at people for not using the same eco-habits you do doesn’t get the planet anywhere – it just creates angry people. Concentrate on your own eco-actions and know the opportunity for informing people when it comes up.