Plastic Pollution

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Click the image below to listen to this segment of the Environmental Moment with information and tips about plastic pollution:

Plastic

Did you know?

Plastics make up a significant portion of our everyday lives and have become common commodities that we use and encounter constantly. While some of these products help make our lives and everyday tasks easier, they are also causing some big problems. 

The Problems

  • About one trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually across the globe. That’s nearly 2 million bags every minute.

  • The amount of bubble wrap that is produced annually is enough to wrap around the equator 10 times.

  • 90% of seabirds contain plastic debris.

  • Some researchers suggest that by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight

  • As of 2018, about 380 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide each year. From the 1950s up to 2018, an estimated 6.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced worldwide, of which an estimated 9% has been recycled and another 12% has been incinerated

     Great Lakes Region:

  • More than 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year.
    • It never really goes away. Instead, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics.

But it doesn't have to be this way! There are things each of us can do everyday to cut into these numbers and chip away at the problems caused by plastic pollution. 

The Solutions:

  • The R's - Many of us grew up learning about the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But now there is a new mantra--the 5 R's:

    • Refuse single-use plastic items like straws, plastic water bottles, and other single-use plastic containers. The less we use/consume, the less will end up somewhere it doesn't belong and the less will ultimately be produced on a larger scale. The next time you are offered a single-use plastic or encounter one in the store, just say "no."

    • Reduce  your usage/purchase of single-use plastics in general, but also think about the things you have that you don't use anymore. If these things can be used by others, there are a variety of places you can donate or recycle old items.

    • Reuse by choosing reusable alternatives over plastic, like water bottles or reusable grocery bags. 

      • Repair the things that you can reuse! This often applies more to items such as clothing, electronics, etc. but is still an important concept to keep in mind. 

    • Recycle what you cannot reuse. The City of Elkhart has a contract with Borden Waste-Away Group that provides 96-gallon recycling carts to all city residents upon request. Keep in mind what items are accepted for recycling when purchasing. If you have questions about what or how to recycle, visit the Borden Waste-Away page for great informative articles or give them a call ((574) 293-5001) to get your questions answered. 

    • Rot -- this one sounds bad, but think of it as another word for compost. This step doesn't apply to plastics but it is a great way to reduce food waste, which makes up another significant portion of our trash. Instead of throwing away old food scraps or leftovers, compost them! Not only does this keep waste out of the landfill, it helps create nutritious soil for your plants!
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