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A quick google search of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch yields some unsettling results. With some estimating it to be larger than 1.6 million square kilometers, harboring anywhere from 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic, it is obvious that its very rapidly becoming an international emergency. That may leave you wondering, “how exactly are these plastics harming the environment,” and, “what can I do to help?” Truth is, it’s easier than you think.

What’s so wrong with plastic?

Since 2000, humans produced more than half of all the plastic ever created. These numbers, plus the fact that the fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by over 40% in the next 10 years, goes to show just how large of a problem this really is. To make matters worse, plastic is so durable that the EPA has stated, “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” These facts and numbers help highlight the plastic problem we have as a species.

Scientists predict there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. This becomes a problem when those fish, marine animals, and birds alike ingest, or get tangled in said plastic. This hinders these animals from performing basic functions. Bird carcasses have been found with plastic blockages in their stomachs; preventing them from digesting other foods and essentially causing them to starve.

But it isn’t only marine life that’s affected. Sometimes, fish that ingest plastic are eaten by larger fish or predators; that plastic continues to move up the food chain until it eventually reaches your plate. As our population continues to grow, we really need to come up with innovative solutions to these pressing problems.

So, what can YOU do?

There are all sorts of things you can do to reduce your plastic use, both big and small. First off, making an investment in a good, reusable water bottle is a great (and easy) start. After that, consider ideas like replacing your toiletries with eco-alternatives, or purchasing cutlery that you can take wherever you go to combat plastic utensils.

There are also lots of free ways you can use less plastic. One way to get started immediately is to get into the habit of telling your waiter/waitress that you don’t need a plastic straw. You could also cut items out of your life such as cut out gum or glitter, which are known to be made of plastics.

Working with businesses that attempt to reduce their plastic waste is also a great idea. There are restaurants, airlines, and entertainment companies that are dedicated to using less plastic. There’s even a luxury cruise line out there with plastic-free initiatives, so you really never know what you can find! Wherever you take your business, make sure it’s with those that commit themselves to being plastic neutral.

Plastic waste is widespread and prevalent; it’s a global issue and needs to be solved. Thankfully, there are things you can do out there. We hope this article inspired you to make some plastic-free changes in your life, and maybe even inspire some unique strategies of your own. One last thing you can do is to continue the conversation on the fight against plastic waste. Share your ideas and strategies with others so they can begin their plastic-free life.

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