Most plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they slowly break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics. Plastic waste causes a plethora of problems when it leaks into the environment. Plastic bags can block waterways and exacerbate natural disasters. By clogging sewers and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and pests, plastic bags can increase the transmission of vector-borne diseases like malaria. High concentrations of plastic materials, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the airways and stomachs of hundreds of species. Plastic bags are often ingested by turtles and dolphins who mistake them for food. There is evidence that the toxic chemicals added during the manufacturing of plastic transfer to animal tissue, eventually entering the human food chain.
Making small changes to reduce plastic in our everyday lives can help the plastic situation. Here are some ways that you can help reduce your consumption of plastics in your household:
- Bring your own reusable straw with you to use in restaurants.
- Use reusable produce bags and grocery bags and keep them in the car ready for use. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade.
- Choose products that are boxed instead of bottled.
- Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
- Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages.
- Pack your own reusable fork, spoon and knife.