Plastic is everywhere these days. Just think about your day so far. You probably woke up and reached from a plastic tube of toothpaste, brushed your teeth with a plastic toothbrush and then wrapped your lunch in a plastic bag, packed a plastic water bottle and then walked out the door for work. This is all before your day has even begun, and plastic already made an appearance in multiple ways. Plastic is so pervasive in our world that we don’t think twice when we encounter it. But more and more it is becoming apparent that maybe we need to think twice.
In the past 30 years alone, the amount of plastic produced worldwide has increased by 620 percent! On average, that equates to 300 million tons of plastic a year. Of this 300 million tons, about 8.8 million tons find their way into the world’s oceans where they are left to slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces – and by slowly, we mean over the course of 100 to 1,000 years. When you consider the huge volume that is added to the oceans every year and the fact that plastics never really “go away,” we find our oceans crowded with a massive soupy mixture of harmful plastic products. This sadly has a massive impact on the marine animals who call our oceans home. Around 700 marine species are in danger of extinction due to entanglement, ingestion or general pollution caused by our plastic trash.
We have dug ourselves into a veritable plastic hole, and if we don’t start to reduce our reliance on plastic, we can only expect this problem to get worse. However, the thought of giving up plastic or choosing to use reusable items in place of disposable seems like a monumental task to some people. The funny thing is, a mere 40 years ago, the amount of plastic we used was miniscule. If you go back 20 years before that, commercial plastics didn’t even exist! So how is it that we, as a society, could go from not even having plastic to feeling as if we cannot live without it?
While there might be something to the belief that we improve ourselves and our lifestyles over time, in the case of plastic, perhaps this doesn’t ring true. In an effort to help ourselves, marine animals and the future generations that will inhabit the planet, we need to take a page from our grandparents and the generations that came before us to eliminate our reliance on plastics.
Here are a few tokens we could all stand to learn from an older generation to ensure the success of future generations:
1. You Can Shop Without Plastic
Walking into a conventional grocery store today is a reminder of just how reliant the shopping experience is on plastic. Food is stored in plastic bags, plastic trays, plastic wrap, and plastic containers. Beverages are often sold in plastic bottles and jugs, or at least in a cardboard container with a plastic cap. And once you go to checkout with your groceries, your purchases will most likely be sent home with you in plastic shopping bags.
Despite the dominance of plastic, people used to get by just fine without this material impeding on their shopping experience. Plastic bags only came to grocery stores during the 1960s. Saranwrap was introduced in 1933, Tupperware in 1946, and the Ziploc bag in 1954. With plastics so easily available and at affordable…