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, but we know that they’re microscopic.
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 them.
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. In the graphic below, I summarized the amounts. In short, we unknowingly consume a lot of plastic. Just think, you’re ingesting a credit card’s worth of data every week!
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 six easy ways:
- 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 reusable ones or skip them altogether.
- Utensils. Carry your own reusable utensil set.
- Sandwich bags. Store food in small glass containers, silicone pouches, or in wax-covered cloths.
For your next new year resolutions, consider adding one of the options above. It’ll better yourself and generations to come. Best wishes for a fantastic New Year!