Plastic, in recent decades, has become a staple of convenience and a modern lifestyle, according to a 2017 Forbes Magazine article.
The surge in plastic bottle use has accompanied a desire for bottled water as Asia has modernized its lifestyle, the article stated.
Several recent reports indicate the dire global situation associated with the world’s plastic use. Two statistics jump out immediately. One, that globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute. The second, 91 percent of all plastic is not recycled.
On top of that, it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020, which present an overwhelming challenge in responding to an exponential increase in recyclable, yet un-recycled products.
Most plastic, bottles included, ends up in either the ocean or in a landfill and that only adds to an ongoing dilemma: How to end the plastic pollution and forge an eco-friendly life that’s plastic-free?
Catherine Plume, a board member and conservation chair of the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C., said people can do something to reduce plastic bottle waste.
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country.
“There’s a myth that bottled water is better than any municipal water source. While this is true in some areas, it’s not ubiquitous,” Plume said.
“New York City, for example, has some of the purest water in the United States. There may be no good reason not to drink directly from your tap,” she said.
Plume recommends carrying a refillable water bottle, noting that stainless steel canisters can now be found in double-walled models that will keep water and other beverages cold or hot for hours.
“While you’re at it, do the planet a favor and skip the straw. Straws are a huge menace and for the most part, can’t be recycled,” Plume said.
Aside from the health issues surrounding drinking and eating from plastic, plastic represents a huge environmental problem, Plume continued, citing the Forbes article that reported less than 10 percent of plastic bottles are recycled.
“If we’re lucky, the remaining 90 percent end up in landfills or are incinerated, which is less than ideal but still better than the reality, that far too, too many of these bottles end up clogging waterways and oceans or littering our land,” she said. “As it takes somewhere around 450 years for a single plastic bottle to decompose, we’re going to have a lot of plastic bottles to deal with.”
Alarmingly, a study by the University of Texas took 455 everyday products like water bottles, baby bottles, plastic wrap, plastic bags, and tested them for estrogenic activity (EA), a hormone found in very low concentrations in the human body. A chemical having estrogenic activity mimics human estrogen, by binding to the cell’s normal estrogen receptor location, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Plastic is estimated to take anywhere from 500 to a thousand years to decompose and, right now, the problem of plastic is, for the most part not affecting most Americans’ daily lives very much, yet if ignored, can have lasting, negative effects on the environment.