Is There Plastic in Your Belly?
Work out. Play. Take it with you and throw it out. What would you do without plastic water bottles?
You better really love them. The one you’re drinking from today will still be around in 3019.
Plastics are forever. Almost every piece of plastic that’s been manufactured is still with us. It’s everywhere from oceans to mountaintops, rivers to farmlands, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. It’s in birds, fish, animals . . . and you.
Plastic makes Russian hackers look like amateurs.
Do you use plastic shopping bags? Is your kitchen stocked with plastic food wrap, Ziploc bags, and “paper” (plastic) plates, cups, and utensils? Do you chew gum, wear clothes from synthetic fabrics, or use standard floor mats and rugs?
You’re probably like most of us – Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. Globally, one million plastic bags are used every minute. Half of all plastics are used just once and thrown away. The average American chucks about 185 pounds of plastic annually.
Where do plastics come from?
Plastics are made from crude oil, chemicals, and dyes. They’re completely man-made; plastic does not occur in nature.
Each step of manufacturing plastic releases greenhouse gases. Even worse, plastic is chemically inert – it won’t mix with other stuff and doesn’t decay. That’s why we love it and also why it’s become such a widespread problem.
When thrown away, plastic breaks down into microplastics which are 5mm or less – about the size of a peppercorn.
Microplastics may break into smaller pieces that can be invisible to the naked eye. They’re called nanoplastics.
Like obnoxious politicians, plastic never goes away.
Where do microplastics hide?
Everywhere. Plastic has been found in everything from fish to beer, sugar to salt, landfills, ground water, soil, the air, and the ocean. They even found it in “Earth’s last wilderness” – Antarctica.
90% of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface is plastic. It comes from manufacturing to body care products; soaps to abrasive cleaners; and makeup to toothpaste. Once-used water bottles, cups, straws, and containers are all over.
Life is under attack. Nearly one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastics in the water.
Marine animals often confuse microplastics with food. Daniel Victor reported in The New York Times that beached whales have been found with thousands of assorted plastics (cups, bags, bottles) in their bodies. One whale had 88 pounds of plastic in its belly.
That’s the fish or shellfish we have for dinner. Along with water or drinks from plastic bottles, and plants (and animals) fed on plastic-infused food.
You already have a lot of plastic in your belly. Conservatively, researchers estimate that adult humans consume about 50,000 microplastics a year; children only 40,000. Roughly 93% of Americans over age 6 test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).
No one knows if – or how – this affects human health.
The Orange Man in The White House doesn’t care
He cut regulations on pollution, dropped out of global agreements, encouraged fossil fuel use, supports plastic manufacturing, and denies that climate change exists. Plastic is good for business so he supports industries that use fossil fuels. Half of all plastics are like the water bottles – used once and thrown away. He barely acknowledges the GPGP (Great Pacific Garbage Patch), a floating dump, moving between Hawaii and California, made up of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic and covering a surface twice the size of Texas.
It’s not all bad news. You can make a difference now!
Recovery and recycling can’t keep up with the millions of tons of plastic being dumped. Here’s what you can do:
- Switch from single-use water/drink bottles to glass and reusable containers.
- Don’t use plastic straws (buy reusables in glass, silicone, or stainless steel).
- Replace Ziplocs, baggies, plastic food storage bags, and shopping bags with reusable materials like silicon, canvas, and glass.
- Recycle plastic products . . . but reusing them is better.
- Educate yourself! Learn which products are biodegradable and good for the planet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Support politicians, organizations, and groups working to reduce plastics and fight climate change.
- Read and share the mini book, Is Your Wonton Soup Endangered?
- Go green and think blue! Help protect our oceans.