As we all know, single-use plastics are not good for the environment. Many large companies like Starbucks have decided to discontinue their use of items like plastic straws, but many of us still use them regularly. When you go out to eat, you may find that your waiter or waitress will ask if you’d like a straw, rather than bringing you one to begin with. While these small steps seem to be headed in the right direction, have you ever asked yourself what the negative effects of single-use plastics actually are?
We have some answers. Here are three reasons you should do your best to avoid single-use plastics:
Made From Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels take millions of years to form. They are then mined and manufactured into thousands of single-use products, with each stage in this transformation bringing its own environmental impacts. Most of these products are then used for only a few minutes (to-go cups, plastic straws, plastic bags in your lunch) before they are thrown away! Millions of years to create, but only minutes before it gets tossed!
Will Be There In Hundreds Of Years
So what happens after we throw single-use plastic products away? There is no escaping the consequences of throwing away vast quantities of material that will take hundreds of years to break down. Long after you and your children have passed, that single-use plastic product you threw away yesterday will still be around. If you’ve walked along a beach in the past ten years, you were likely reminded of the consequences of our throw-away culture, and this problem continues to get worse.
Makes Its Way Into Our Food Chain
Not only is it an eye-sore on our planet’s beautiful landscapes, but it also causes suffering among marine wildlife around the world. Whether they mistake it for food or they become entangled in it, their fate is the same. Bird and fish carcasses with plastic products inside and out can be found on remote islands around the world, the plastic still intact, ready to cause problems with the next generation of birds and fish. You’ve likely heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but you probably didn’t know that microplastics outnumber plankton (the base of the entire marine food chain) 6 to 1. Microplastics are eaten by fish every day, entering the human food chain. Tuna with a side of toxic microplastic, anyone?
Plastic has only been in mass production for about 50 years, so we are certainly in unchartered territory. We don’t yet know how harmful it is for humans to be consuming fish that has been eating plastic can be, but it seems only natural to assume that there will be consequences for this as well. Only will tell us the impact that our addiction to single-use plastics has created.
Let’s all make it a point to use less plastic this year. Check out 9 Tips For Living With Less Plastic to be a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem, and do our best to keep Minnesota and the rest of our planet beautiful!