Imagine this, you have beautiful acreage for creating a family farm. This is your space… and not only does your family depend on the produce of the land to survive, but the future generations of your family will also depend on this land. You have to think not only long term for the current generation, but also the generations to come. Here’s the catch. Any trash you dispose of has to be disposed on your land. Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, so that means that any plastics you throw away are now on your property trash heap and there they will stay for a long time.
I gave myself this analogy when I was having a hard time feeling motivated to make the necessary steps to reduce our plastic consumption. Plastic, quite frankly, is easy to use and I like using it on many occasions! In our world, it’s also hard to avoid. But I realized that I wasn’t taking personal responsibility over the plastic that we were throwing away. It was only because I didn’t have to deal with the consequences (at least, very directly) that I wasn’t motivated. This wasn’t to make me feel guilty (or to make you feel guilty by sharing with you), but rather to give that needed kick in the pants to make good changes. When it came down to it, I realized that if I had to see plastic piling up on my own property, that my attitude would be a lot different. And that’s sad because I think that we should care about being good stewards of this beautiful earth regardless of whether or not it effects our backyard.
Unfortunately, we are so used to plastic being part of our world that we don’t even realize how much its overused! Everything from plastic bags, to plastic pens, to food packaging, to plastic baggies for lunch pails, plastics are found everywhere everyday in our daily lives. I’ve found that it definitely takes some effort to reduce plastic, so allow me to give you three reasons we should work on reducing plastics.
Problem Number One: Plastics Take a Long time to Degrade
We don’t really know how long it takes plastics to degrade, but we know that it takes a long, long time. Plastics just haven’t been around long enough for us to be able to say for sure what their usual lifespan is. However, plastic seems to be quite durable and definitely don’t degrade easily. That means the plastic that we throw away today is probably going to be around for a long-long time-perhaps even up to 500 to a 1, 000 years! Way to fill up our landfills, huh?
If you really want to be disturbed, do two things. Visit your city dump, which I did at one point. The amount of trash (including of course, a lot of plastic) was completely overwhelming….and eye-opening. We are usually so removed from our trash! It’s picked up weekly by a nice man in a truck and we don’t worry about it after that. Secondly, read about the incredible trash heap vortex that is twice the size of Texas caught in the middle of the ocean. Another eye opening view of the consequences of throwing away a lot of trash.
Problem Number Two: Plastics Degrade in Sea Water- Poisoning the Water and the Food we Eat
While it’s generally agreed upon that plastic degrades extremely slowly on land, recently they found that it degrades much more quickly in the Ocean. But that’s not good news, because plastic is full of chemicals and toxins which is now found in the ocean (including BPA, which has been shown to interfere with the reproductive systems of sea life). This endangers not only animals, but also those of us who would still like to consume the healthy, nutrient dense sea foods we love.
Problem Number Three: Once they do degrade, What Happens To the Toxins?
And that brings up another important question in my mind, when plastic does finally degrade, what’s going to happen to all of the chemicals in that plastic? BPA is just one of many chemicals and toxins found in plastic, so whether it sits around in landfills, or degrades and poisons our environment plastic doesn’t seem to be doing much good for us or our earth.
All in all, plastic isn’t a health promoting substance and it pollutes our earth. Realistically speaking, I know that I am not going to be able to completely avoid plastic. But what I do know is that I can reduce our consumption of it-one step at at time. I am really looking forward to sharing ideas in our ongoing series on reducing plastic consumption. If nothing else, this series will help me in my own endeavors, but I hope it helps encourage you too. And I am sure that many of my readers will have their own wonderful ideas and tips too! So please share!