Over the last ten years, humans produced and consumed more plastic than during the entire 20th century. Fifty percent of these plastic products and packages are used just once before we throw them away. Of course, there is no away. Except for the small percentage that is incinerated (mmm, air pollution) virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.
Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
A big portion of that is in the form of plastic bags.
The world consumes more than one million bags per minute.
Many of these plastic bags are used once, only to end up in the streets.
The average American consumes 500 plastic bags a year.
And plastic bags are only part of the problem. We also throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year.
That works out to about 1,500 plastic bottles per second.
If you think all that plastic waste just ends up in landfills, far away from where you live, think again.
Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
That enough to cover 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces.
This floating plastic breaks down into such small segments that the pieces from just ONE liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach in the world.
All this microscopic plastic debris has given birth to a new type of rock: Plastiglomerate.
Centuries from now, plastiglomerate is how our generation will be remembered in the geological record.
All that tiny plastic isn't just bad news for humans, though.
One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
The only way to end this madness is to seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
When absolutely necessary (or unavoidable) to use plastic, choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE). They're the easiest to recycle.
Look around you. How much plastic waste do you see?
For more info on how to take your home, office, campus, or church plastic-free, visit plasticpollutioncoalition.org.