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Environment Column

The Ocean is Overflowing with Our Plastic

What's happening

In the United States alone, 2 million plastic bottles are used every 5 minutes. That's 288 million bottles each day, JUST in the United States. Of those 288 million bottles we use each day, 120,548 end up in the ocean or landfills every minute! Although using disposable plastic containers seems convenient, we are paying for this laziness.

In the Pacific Ocean, the currents direct the plastic in a way that collects it in one massive bunch. This plastic clump is twice the size of the state of Texas. That's literally plastic as far as the eye can see. Bottom line, we need to reduce our use of plastic beverage containers.

DISCLAIMER: This video will frustrate you to the point of buying a reusable bottle. Consider yourself warned!

Fish and birds are dying at frightening rates because they are eating plastic. Even when the plastic "breaks down", it remains as tiny plastic particles that resemble plankton. That means that no matter what size the animal, they will eat plastic, even the ones who eat plankton. A whale washed up on the coast of Washington and plastic bags were found in its stomach. Nothing is immune to our waste.

You are contributing to the problem

Every American is guilty of using non-recyclable plastics. It seems we have no choice. In actuality, we do. Most of the non-recyclable plastics we use can be avoided by choosing a different item. If the consumer stops buying from producers who use certain types of plastics, the producer will be forced to change the materials they use. Some items are impossible to substitute, and buying them is understandable. When given a choice, however, it is best to use your purchasing power to urge the producer to stop using non-recyclable plastic in their packaging.

What can you do?

Use a reusable bottle and filtered water. Nalgene, Sigg, Kleen Kanteen, there are tons of great options out there that are affordable. Not only do you reduce plastic waste but you are consuming better water. Did you know that bottled water is less regulated than tap water? That's right, bottled water can actually be dirtier than tap water. So much for water snobs who think their Evian is superior to your tap water. Lesson learned, drink your water out of a reusable bottle so you're not explaining to your grandchildren why the ocean is ruined because you were too lazy to stop throwing away plastic.

By Corey Chin

Corey's Recent Articles

Biodegradable Plastics 11/5/10

Environmental Ethics 11/3/10

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