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How Can we Reduce our Dependency on Plastics and the Harmful Effects they have on our Environment?

If you take a stroll along our beautiful Rockaway beaches you will not have to walk too far to see a plastic straw, bottle, fork, etc., washing up on our shores. The same holds true if you walk along Rockaway Boulevard or any other section of the neighborhood, plastic is all around us. What you don’t see is the plastic buried in our landfills and floating in our waterways or lying on the bottom of the ocean.

Plastic is one of the most commonly used materials on the earth, and single-use plastic has become a huge problem for our planet. To learn more on the harmful effects of plastic then read the following:

1) Plastic takes hundreds of years to breakdown.

2) Plastic is made from petroleum oil, which isn’t sustainable. Oil is a nonrenewable fossil fuel that pollutes our air.

3) Based on current plastic use estimates there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

4) Making plastic requires the use of a lot of water. It actually takes double the amount of water to produce a single-use bottle as the amount of water in the actual bottle.

5) One million plastic water bottles are purchased every single minute across the globe, but less than 10% are recycled.

6) Single-use bottles are usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) — a material that photodegrades instead of biodegrading. Even when bottles break down through photodegradation, tiny pieces of microplastic are left behind which can reach critical drinking sources and harm wildlife.

7) Half of all plastic in the world today was produced in the last 15 years. +Eight states have already banned single-use plastic bags in retail stores, but the amount of plastic expected to be produced in 2050 is still 3.5 times the amount that was produced in 2015.

8) Humans ingest plastic daily thru our drinking water, foods, plastic wrap, and other sources. This ingestion of plastic has serious health related problems for humans such as cancer, infertility and neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD and autism.

9) Production of plastic bottles is damaging our ozone.

10) Every minute, a garbage truck's worth of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean. Oceana estimates that 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enter our oceans annually.

What can you do to stop the devastating effects of plastic on the environment? Well, it’s quite easy to do, you just need to put in a little extra effort, as we recommend below.

1) Stop using plastic water bottles, instead always keep a reusable water bottle with you. Keep one on your bike, in your car, backpack, etc. In addition to protecting the environment you will also save money.

2) Replace laundry detergent plastic bottles with laundry detergent sheets that come in bio-degradable packaging. Check out Earth Breeze and other similar plastic-free products.

3) When buying coffee out bring your own reusable coffee mug/container. Most stores will gladly fill up your reusable coffee mug then use their own plastic cup.

4) If possible, stop using plastic straws. If you need a straw, there are many alternatives such as – stainless steel straws, straws made from bamboo or other natural sources such as corn.

5) Plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are a major waste problem. There are now many non-plastic alternatives such as shampoo and conditioner ‘bars’ that come in plastic free packaging.

6) Reduce plastic bottles used for house cleaning solutions. Several companies now provide cleaning tables with reusable bottles.

7) Educate family members, friends, neighbors, and others on the effects of single use plastics and how they can reduce their plastic usage. Next time you need a gift idea think about giving a loved one or friend a plastic-free gift or a subscription to an eco-friendly company that sells plastic free utensils/devices and other environmentally friendly products.

8) Petition local stores/restaurants to use plastic-free products only. If they want your business, then they should be considerate about the environmental needs of the entire community. If the local stores do not address your plea for a cleaner and nontoxic environment, then a boycott could be used an effective tool to get your message across to the owners.

So, the next time you reach for a plastic water bottle, plastic straw, or plastic of any type, think again. Is there a better, more sustainable option? Every small act of conservation thru the reduction of single use plastics will have a substantial impact on the future of your environment.

Tom Last

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