The many ways to reduce plastic waste

Raven Barton, Editor-in-Chief

Plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and durable, which is why almost every industry loves it – and because it is light and cheap, there is a lot of it. These qualities are what each industry looks for when making a product. However, because of these special qualities it tends to stick around for a long time and has accumulated very quickly for over a half a century.

Around 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year. Only about 10 percent of this is recycled. Of the plastic that is discarded, an estimated seven million tons somehow ends up in the sea each year and breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces as the years go on.

The smaller the pieces, the more easily they are to be swallowed by marine life. One study found that fish in the North Pacific ingest as much as 24,000 tons of plastic waste a year. Once the plastic is no longer in the form of solid chunks, it is difficult to retrieve it after it gets into the ocean and because there is no certain nation or authority that has responsibility over the oceans, cleanup and prevention are largely left to nongovernmental organizations.

Nongovernmental organizations should not be left with the task to clean up waste that could have been prevented. There are many ways one can reduce their “plastic footprint.” By practicing eco friendly tasks, the world will be able to decrease the amount of plastic used and help protect the marine and other aspects of life, from a deadly threat.

Ten things one can do to reduce their “plastic footprint”; Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw. Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase a reusable produce bag. Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, also known as plastic. Buy boxes instead of bottles.

Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic. Purchase food, like cereal, pasta and rice in bulk and fill a reusable bag or container. Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk. Use a reusable bottle for beverages. Make fresh squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It is much healthier, has less sugar and is better for the environment. Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.

Further down the line, the time may come when plastic trash is seen as something that has greater commercial value. After all, plastic, which is petroleum-based, can be converted into fuel. But for now, the main goal is to eliminate our plastic consumption and protect species that are being affected by this harmful waste.