But seriously, where the eff did plastic come from?!?!
The first fully synthetic plastic, containing no molecules found in nature, was created in 1907. At the time, it was well received as it was lighter and more durable building material than many of its counterparts. It was incorporated into furniture, packaging and automobiles.
Fast forward 100 years and we're in a plastic epidemic. One estimate suggests humans have created 8.3 billion tons of plastic, of which 6.3 billion tons of that (75%) is waste.
Unlike organic waste, which naturally breaks down in nature, plastic doesn't decompose because it's not made of any organic materials. That means the earth's natural ways of recycling matter doesn't work on plastic.
This also means we're suffocating our earth in plastic.
Plastics make up 50-80% of marine debris, have been found in the guts of animals since the 1960's and are now entering the human food chain at increasing concentrations. We are consuming micro plastics through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the animals we eat.
It's pretty crazy to think about how much we rely on plastic. It literally touches all parts of the modern lifestyle, all around the world. Plastic is something that we all use and it is destroying our environments.
While it's unrealistic to ask humanity to stop using plastic altogether, there are some simple ways to limit your plastic consumption and reduce your plastic footprint.
1. Think past plastic straws and stop using plastic silverware, coffee lids, and plastic bags.
Cities are beginning to ban single use plastics commonly found in restaurants. The Bay Area has as growing number of cities participating in this ban; SF, Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz. The ban requires compostable alternatives across the board, from silverware to cocktail sticks.
The city that deserves the loudest applause though is Watsonville, California. Their plastic ban ordinance is thought to be the toughest in the county and region. Considering Watsonville is part of "America's Salad Bowl", where the majority of fruits and vegetables in the US are grown, this could have huge implications for future bans to reduce the amount of plastic packaging in our food supply.
Q: How much plastic did your salad come in?
A: Greens in a plastic container, cucumber wrapped in saran wrap, onions pre-chopped and sealed, salad dressing in a plastic bottle...
2. Go on a plastic hunt in your bathroom.
From shampoo bottles and Q-tips, to floss and toothbrushes, our bathrooms are full of plastic that we only use once or for a couple of months. Many of these plastics are colored too, which means that unfortunately they're NOT getting recycled even if thrown in a recycling bin.
Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives, such as wooden toothbrushes and hemp floss, that'll keep you fresh without contributing to your plastic footprint.
3. Stop drinking anything out of a plastic bottle.
We know this is a hard one but we challenge you to try. Of the 3, this has the most impact on your overall health.
Researchers have found that people who consume most of their water through plastic bottles consume 90,000 plastic particles a day, compared to those who drink tap and only consume 4,000 plastic particles a day.
Over a week, this plastic build up amounts to the size of a credit card, about 5 grams. Over a year, you'll have consumed over half a pound of plastic.