Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once.Reuters
Once plastic, always plastic. Plastics don’t biodegrade- they simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Through the food chain, these small pieces of plastic end up back in our food and water. More studies are needed to determine exactly how small these plastic particles become.
Microplastics, which are about the size of a sesame seed, are well-known. However, there are smaller classes of particles that are gaining awareness, including nanoplastics. The size of particles is important, because it affects how our bodies absorb and process it.
How much plastic does the average person consume?
While I was reading over the recent holidays, I came across a Reuters article titled, “A Plateful of Plastic: Visualising the Amount of Microplastic We Eat.” It’s a quick read and has some eye-opening images. I encourage you to check it out. In the graphic below, I summarized the article and converted the weights to standard system metrics. In short, we unknowingly consume a lot of plastic.
It’s hard to avoid plastic in modern-day life. I just bought a new vacuum cleaner with several plastic components because they were unavoidable. However, we can still significantly reduce our overall plastic consumption by reducing single-use plastics. Here are 6 easy areas to target:
- Grocery bags. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. There are numerous trendy options nowadays, and many grocery stores will even offer you a bag refund.
- Water bottles. Start using refillable stainless steel or glass bottles. Purchase a water filter for your fridge or faucet if you are concerned about water quality.
- Liquid soap containers. Buy in large bulk containers or switch to bar soap. Even for shampoo!
- Straws. Carry your own reusable glass or stainless steels ones or skip straws altogether.
- Utensils. Carry your own reusable and lightweight bamboo utensil set.
- Sandwich bags. Store food in small glass containers or consider wax-covered cloth to wrap food.
For your 2020 resolutions, consider adding one of the options above. It’ll better yourself and generations to come. Best wishes for a fantastic New Year!