Today is Earth Day! We spend this day celebrating Earth, raising awareness of things threatening the planet, and learning how to fix those problems! This year’s theme is plastic pollution and the threat it poses to humans and other life.
Plastics can be very useful, but the huge amount that is discarded incorrectly and dangerously is a serious issue. In one year alone, the state of New York uses enough plastic bags that, if they were tied together, they could reach the moon and back – 18 times! Worldwide, about 1 trillion bags are used and disposed of every year. And that’s not including other plastic items like drinking straws, plastic bottles, and single-use plastic containers.
Much of what we use is not disposed of correctly! Each year, about 8 trillion tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. The waste congregates together, forming enormous “islands” of floating plastic where fish and other sea life cannot live. There are currently 5 of these huge clumps around the world – the largest of these is the size of Texas! If the current trend of littering continues, there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish by the year 2050.
All this means, however, is that we have a long way to go to fixing this problem. And you can help out, too! Here are some steps that you can follow to start:
- Reduce! Minimize your use of plastics, because recycling is far from perfect, and many recycled plastics will end up in landfills anyways.
- Refuse! Similar to reduce, but making a more conscious effort to reject using plastic products, such as not taking a straw at a restaurant.
- Reuse! If you do use plastic products, be sure to avoid single-use items and instead choose something that you can continue to utilize over a longer period of time; or better yet, get yourself reusable, non-plastic items.
- Recycle! When you do end up using and needing to dispose of plastic products, recycle them! But be smart about it. Only recycle products that you know are recyclable. Educate yourself on local recycling management procedures and what kinds of material they take.
- Remove! Help to clean up the plastic that is already littering our planet! Helping can be anything from picking up trash yourself to supporting organizations that are tackling the problem at a larger level.
All in all, there is a lot to do, but education is the first step to solving these issues. Tell a friend or a family member what they can do to help! Let’s work together to make the world a better place.
If you want to learn even more about what to do or how to help, here’s the link to the official Earth Day 2018 website: https://www.earthday.org/
Written by Scott Yarbrough