Plastic: Why it’s Harmful and How to Reduce Your Consumption

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When it comes to food, I’m a texture person (though my mom might just call it “picky”). It explains my dislike for applesauce and oatmeal, and why my acceptance of sushi grew ever so slowly. The same is true for the texture of my eating utensils. I prefer plastic cutlery, especially when eating something smooth like yogurt. It’s hard to explain but for me the lightweight fluidity of a plastic fork or spoon is always preferable to its metal counterpart. That might explain why I have a whole drawer full of the stuff. Strange, I know.


I’m getting rid of it. Every last piece of plastic utensils that I own. It’s a small change that I can make, and that we all can make for the sake of our environment. Under the current leadership, it’s safe to say our gorgeous earth needs all the help she can get. Did you see this article I posted earlier in the week about the impact President Trump has had on the environment in just a few short months?


There’s a new buzz word hitting the lips of the environmental conscious among us: Single-use plastics. They include all plastic cutlery, cups, plates, bowls, bags, to-go boxes…ya know all that stuff you use one time before chucking it. These items are not only littering our parks, roads, rivers, lakes and oceans causing an eye sore, but because many are not biodegradable they are leaching chemicals into our planet as they break down over years and years, doing damage that cannot be reversed.


Why is this a problem (MAJOR problem) and how can we fix it? Think about how much plastic you consume during a typical day. Any packaged food you buy is wrapped in plastic. Think bag of tortilla chips or granola bar wrapper. You carry groceries home with you in in plastic bags. You get a take home meal from the local restaurant in a plastic container, and if you’re anything like me you eat it with a plastic fork and you wash it down with a bottled water. All to be thrown in the garbage can as soon as were done (and if you’re thinking “no I recycle it!” you are the minority). We’d be crazy if we didn’t admit that plastic is pretty fricken convenient. It’s all around us and when we throw it in the trash can, all we’re doing is moving it to a new location whether that be to a land fill or our oceans. In essence, the main drawback of plastic is there’s way too much of it.


Global plastic production doubles every 11 years and the production of plastic has only started booming recently. Your grandparents are probably pretty unfamiliar with the stuff. After all, they were leaving empty glass milk jugs on the porch for the milkman to refill and return next week.  Most of the plastic we use and don’t think twice about ends up in the ocean. 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year. Researchers estimate by 2025 there will be one ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If that doesn’t freak you out…


Plastic pollution has a direct effect on humans. Yes, plastic is convenient and cheap but it’s also harmful to your health. Plastic is created using chemicals that are not fit for human consumption. Some scientists have concluded that certain types of plastic mimic hormones and others have been linked to cancers and neurological issues. Plankton feed on plastic in the ocean, and fish eat plankton—the same fish that end up on our dinner plates. So, the same plastic fork that you carelessly threw in the garbage is ending up in your fried cod dinner.


France has taken a stand on this issue and has recently banned all plastic cutlery and tableware. India has also banned all forms of disposal plastic in its capital. The US is seeing a rise in plastic awareness at the state level with legislation being introduced in places such as California and Michigan. As to whether a plastic ban will ever take effect, well that’s up to the voters. Voting doesn’t always have to occur at the polls, either. Our votes our often heard more via our wallets. So vote with your dollars. The less you consume plastic, the less it will be produced.


Here’s how:


1.)Forget bottled water. Grab a reusable water bottle and refill it. That’s what they’re for.


2.)Bring your own reusable or paper bags to the grocery store. Also bring containers for your produce. Buy nuts and seeds in bulk.


3.)Grow your own garden. You don’t bring grocery bags to your backyard.


4.)Shop at the famers market (bring your own bags)


5.)Forget the plastic cutlery. Bring a fork and knife with you when you grab lunch. Refuse them when you get take out.


It’s unrealistic to ask that you eliminate all the plastic from your life. RECYCLE the plastic that you are consuming. Every township should have recycling guidelines listed on their webpage. The amount of plastic the world produces is astounding. We need to start taking action now to reduce the negative impact. Happy plastic-reducing!

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