The Solution to Ending Plastic Waste

By Nolan

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Plastic is not the problem. You are.

Sixty million plastic bottles are thrown in landfills each day. That amounts to approximately 300,000,000 tonnes every year. Nine million tons of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions. There is currently 150 Million tons of plastic in the oceans. 

Wow.

This not only damages our marine ecosystem, endangering various species through entanglement and ingestion but also exposes humans to dangerous chemicals through the food chain. The US uses enough straws every day to wrap around the world’s circumference 2 and a half times. And every plastic ever made still exists today. 

Let’s be honest. You’ve probably heard some of these facts before. Probably plenty more as well. But if we all know the horrendous effects of single-use plastics (SUPs), why do we still choose to use them? Why do we, the major consumers of the modern world, decide to ignore these facts, and resume neglectfully with our daily lives?

When you go to the supermarket, do you always choose to decline the plastic bag? Do you carelessly accept your coffee with that nasty plastic straw? How many people do you know, carry around with them their own reusable straws? Why don’t you then? Is it really that hard?

If your answer to the last question is yes, don’t worry, I get it. I can see why you might find it arduous to drag along your own reusable straw, and the burdensome trouble you’d put yourself through to remember to bring it with you every time. But let me ask you this: is it worth killing the ocean, to avoid cleaning a straw?

I know what you think when you hear these claims. How would I really be helping the world by reusing plastic? “After all, there’s only one of me and 7.7 billion others in the world”. It’s with this mentality that people fail to see the effects of changing. Doing small things like bringing your own bag to the grocery store, or using more reusable products instead of single-use ones, these actions, although they seem small, does have a large effect in the long term.

If more people start making an effort to use fewer SUPs, others will then see that simple effort and be more inclined to use reusable products themselves. This generates a positive feedback loop that has a multiplier effect on the rest of the population. As more people make this small effort, the demand for SUPs decreases and the demand for reusable products increases, forcing producers to adapt their market. You can see how this small effortless action that one individual takes, can help the world be a more healthy and sustainable place.

Now, I don’t need to convince you that SUPs are harmful to the environment. I don’t even need to mention that 49% of all waste in the ocean comes from SUPs. The only thing I need to tell you is how to make this change. The solution is simple:

You need to stop calling plastic the problem- because the real problem is you.

Regretfully, the people most knowledgeable on the SUP problem, are often the ones to dismiss it the fastest. And are they really to blame? When thinking of the solution to ending the plastic pollution problem, the first logical solution that comes to mind is to stop the companies in charge of SUP production. The idea that it is up to the manufacturers to make the change allows the ignorant to throw their hands up and let the people in charge make the change because it’s ‘their fault’.

The leaders of major SUP manufacturers have no interest in changing their product. There is no benefit for them to stop producing SUPs unless you make an active decision to stop using their products. In this case, to solve our problem, all it needs is a little bit of awareness. Once that awareness and will to use more environmentally friendly products spreads, the long term effects will reverberate in our near future.

So wake up! If we want a better future for ourselves, we need to work to make that happen! 

Change our future, it’s easier than it seems.

Works Cited

“Plastic in the Ocean: the Facts, Effects and New EU Rules | News | European Parliament.” Plastic in the Ocean: the Facts, Effects and New EU Rules | News | European Parliament, 24 Oct. 2018, www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20181005STO15110/plastic-in-the-ocean-the-facts-effects-and-new-eu-rules.