Plastic: Consider the Consequences
Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by my findings on the health of our environment and specifically our natural resource of water. My research has taken me across the globe, to the ocean I overlook while drinking my coffee each morning and to depths of water basins I didn’t even know existed under desert floors, only a few short hours away from my home.
Not only have I found marine life’s wellbeing jeopardized by the waste being disposed into our water systems, but also the effects on the plant and animal life here on land too from the over-use and contamination of our natural resources. Our consumption of water and use of plastic and other toxic wastes have affected not only these innocent animals and their habitats, but have been the culprit of cancer, asthma and infertility in our own human race.
I’m not here to judge or to criticize each of our lifestyles (the only way my finger is pointing is back at myself), but rather to shine light and spark awareness on this exponentially growing risk we have of watching the earth decay in our own lifespan and in the lives of our offspring. My heart is broken to think our government and those of other large countries have turned a blind eye to the result of our greed and bad habits.
Below are just a few facts that we ALL need to take into consideration when it comes to our consumption of water and the things that we add back into it which ultimately affects this beautiful planet and the creatures that share it with us.
- A new CONTINENT has been born due to the plastic waste disposed into the ocean by the human race. Due to currents in the Pacific Ocean, a mass larger than the size of Europe has formed out of plastic WASTE in the middle of the ocean.
- Plastic can last up to 500 years. It does not rot. It does not biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces but never goest away.
- Micro plastics poison our food chain. Found in many of our daily products, micro plastics can’t be broken down by water treatment centers so 100% of them get flushed back into the ocean. Micro plastics are found in toothpastes and body washes where regulations let up to 10% of each product to be made from these. Small fish and creatures in the ocean eat them and absorb their toxins. This video breaks it down better than I can: Are You Eating Plastic for Dinner?
- It spoils our groundwater. Thousands of landfills in the USA toxic chemicals from plastics seep into the groundwater and flow down into lakes and rivers. This
- Wildlife is threatened. Ingestion, habitat disruption and injuries occur as result of plastic ending up in places that animals live. It is dangerous and sometimes threatens full eco-systems by taking over areas that animals need to leave to survive. Over 260 species have been reported to injury, death or infertility cases due to the contact of plastics in their environments.
- Clean up of plastic pollution costs billions. Environtmental damage to the ocean by plastic pollution costs $13 billion a year in attempts to clean up. It’s an estimated $75 billion annually in environmental damage from plastic use.
- Affects on human health are severe. Chemicals from plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us at this point. Exposure to them has now been linked to cancers, birth decects, bad immunity and other ailments. We don’t even know how many at this time because the connection is overwhelming.
This video breaks down some of the above facts better than I can if you are a visual or oral learner: It’s a plastic world
We as consumers can do our part on alleviating this catastrophic problem.
Let me suggest some alternatives and healthy/sustainable habits.
1– Avoid personal care products with polymer microbeads. These are found in toothpaste, gels and facial/body cleansers. They should be outlawed by now but big brands are keeping them on the shelves with their $$ pushing back lawmakers efforts. The only way to stop them is by our own actions as consumers. Look for organic particles like apricot pits that are used for exfoliators instead of polymer plastic.
2 — More recycling. Shop at stores that have bring back programs. What you can’t get away with, reduce or reuse the plastics. Pay attention to the ways you can reuse items or give to organizations that have those efforts in place. Pay attention to packaging always. Choose glass, paper, stainless steel, wood, ceramics and bamboo over plastic.
3 — Drink from reusable bottles – not plastic bottles. This is such a culprit as I travel often and space is limited on planes or I just simply forget. Changing personal habits is key for this effort. Consider the amount of money you spend in buying water bottles throughout the year and invest that money in a water treatment system you can have installed in your home or filling up large containers that you can have a supply of clean/filtered/enhanced ph level drinking water.
4 — Donate to organizations that help reduce pollution caused by disposable plastics and that educate 1st, 2nd and 3rd world countries on their part in the solution. Support Bio-plastic efforts to create plastic made of maze or starch – as most can be treated or composted to decompose.
5 — Reuse durable, non toxic straws, utensils and to-go containers, bottles .
7 — Radically change your consumption habits. Let’s get serious on managing our waste and consumer habits. 10 Million to 20 Million tons of plastic enter the oceans every year. Even cruise ships are allowed to dump a certain amount of garbage into the ocean on their trips. Fisheries, tourist activities and littering are a few reasons for this amount. If you know a company, service or activity does not have specific efforts set into place to reduce their waste, don’t support them or take part in them. If something will leave behind excessive plastic or trash, don’t buy it.
8 — Continue to educate yourselves and those around you about the powerful impact each of our footprints leave on this earth. Seek to increase awareness and understanding of the problem and pledge to live a plastic-free lifestyle. Challenge friends/co-workers/family to changing habits and volunteering to cleanup efforts or recycling action throughout the community.
AURA AVENUE wants to challenge each of you to a Plastic Free July. The challenge we found through @PlasticPollutes Instagram and website to attempt to refuse single-use plastic during the entire month of July. You can sign up for a day, week or the whole month and refuse ALL plastic items or try the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, coffee cups and straws. YOU’VE GOT THIS! We will report back on our own findings and challenges throughout the challenge.
*BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD*
Aura Avenue Photos by: Rachel Wilkins
Animals from Pinterest & Credible Sources Below
Credible Sources & More Valuable Information:
Kirby, David. “http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/06/30/ocean-plastic-pollution-costs-13-billion-year-and-your-face-scrub-part-problem.” (30 June 2014)
Thompson, Richard C.; Moore, Charles J.; vom Saal, Frederick S.; Swan, Shanna H. “Plastics, the Environment and Human Health: Current Consensus and Future Trends,” Biological Sciences (14 June 2009)
National Geographic. “http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-ocean-debris-plastic-garbage-patches-science/” (15 February 2015)