By Victor Xie
According to Time magazine, “every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans.” According to National Geographic, “79 percent (of plastic)—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter.” According to a recent study by a British research team, “more than 80 percent of the (deep sea species collected) had plastic fibers and particles in their digestive systems.”
Plastic is polluting our environment. We use it every day without really understanding the consequence of where it goes after we use it once. That is why we must reduce, reuse and recycle. While these three concepts may be basic and unoriginal, they are the basis of what we can all do to help reduce the strain on the environment.
Reduce. The main idea of reduction is to lower our usage of plastic. Instead of buying plastic materials such as cups, plates or bags, invest in their paper counterparts, which decompose faster. Another idea of reduction is to reduce the amount of plastic we see on the streets and in the environment around us. On a smaller scope, we can volunteer at creek cleanups to create a positive change in our communities.
Reuse. The concept of reusing is based on two branches: reuse the plastic you have or buy a reusable counterpart. For example, reusing a plastic bag multiple times before it rips or breaks, or buying a reusable straw to substitute for the three plastic straws used in a week.
Recycle. Recycling is the most popular, yet most ineffective way to solve this plastic issue. Sure, we can throw our plastic into the recycle bin and hope for the best, but National Geographic has found that “of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste.” That’s a huge 79 percent that is not recycled. On top of that, Nestlé Waters North America has admitted that only 6 percent of its bottles are made from recycled plastic.
Many plastic companies who claim their bottles are made from recycled plastic actually have very small amounts of recycled plastic in them. Recycling does its job, but only to an extent.