Plastic: Earth’s worst enemy

By Brian Sease

Think back to the last time you got takeout; there was probably a plastic cup, a plastic bag, a Styrofoam box and plastic utensils.

These items were most likely discarded after maybe an hour of use, thrown into the trash without even a thought.

These items can take centuries to decompose, if at all.

We have gotten to a point in time where even in the face of climate change and mass pollution, we’re unwilling to make changes in our lifestyles because wastefulness is so deeply rooted in our culture.

Plastic is by far the worst culprit, it does not occur naturally so there’s no way for it decompose or breakdown and safely make its way back into the natural cycle.

The worst part is that about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, and only around 10 percent of that is actually recycled.

This plastic often makes its way into the ocean in various forms; regular garbage, such as plastic bottles and bags; in microplastics, such as microbeads from cosmetics and plastic pellets from plastic manufacturing; and so on.

Microplastics are perhaps the most insidious offenders; their tininess and bright colors makes them easy targets for hungry sea creatures.

This can be very harmful, if not fatal, to marine life.

So what can we do to change our lifestyles? Start small.

e Recycle: A classic. Make sure to always recycle any plastic, glass or paper that you use. This one is simple and has results.

e Buy a reusable water bottle: the average American uses about 167 plastic water bottles a year but only recycles 38. This would not only be better for the environment, but it would be a huge money saver as well.

e Avoid fast food and takeout; not only is it unhealthy and not cost-efficient, it creates an unnecessary amount of trash that is used only fleetingly.

e Avoid cosmetics and cosmetic brands that use microbeads: As of 2018, the production of products containing microbeads was banned in California.

e Reusable shopping bags: DON’T FORGET YOUR SHOPPING BAGS. Plastic bags are already banned in grocery stores in many parts of California, so this one only really requires remembering your bags. However, other shops still use plastic bags so bring your own to places you may not think to.

e Avoid fast fashion: Americans throw out about 26 billion pound of clothes a year. Cheaply produced (often by sweatshop workers) and low quality, these clothes are purchased and worn for only a short while before they are thrown out. To avoid this, buy higher quality clothing that will last longer or buy second hand.

e Avoid polyester clothing: although this could potentially be a much larger lifestyle change, it’s important. Textiles are a huge contributor of microplastics. When washed, polyester clothing release microfibers in to the water, which can make their way into the ocean and function just, like microplastics.

We are at an important time in history to make the decision to become more environmentally consciousness because if we don’t we’re probably doomed.

Our generation is incredibly important to this because if we make these changes then our future generations will follow in our footsteps.

Little changes add up, even if it seems like they’re not doing anything.

If everyone, even in just California, were to be mindful of their wastefulness, then we would see results.

There’s only one earth, we best take care of it

Plastic is the worst culprit

Valerie Mancia / The Poly Post

Plastic is the worst culprit

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