With Americans' busy lifestyles, often the last thing on people's minds is how much garbage they produce. Few people realize the immense impacts their every day actions have on the environment, particularly marine life.
Single-use products are the main source of trash in our waters. When this garbage is disposed of improperly, it ends up in our stormwater and sewer systems, and ultimately our oceans, which has a devastating impact on marine life. In addition, the manufacturing of plastic products produces enormous amounts of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
Recent studies have shown the following:
- There is 100 times more plastic in the ocean today than there was 10 years ago.
- 80% of ocean plastic pollution originates on land as street litter, garage blown out of landfills, or illegally dumped trash.
- During the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup, 48% of litter collected (not counting cigarette butts) in the Narragansett Bay was single-use food and beverage packaging and bits of degraded plastic.
- Scientists estimate that if we continue to consume plastic at the current rate there will be more plastic than marine life in our oceans by 2050.
Thankfully, there are easy steps everyone can incorporate into their daily routines to reduce the amount of single-use products they use.
- Bring your own reusable bags when shopping
- Reduce your use of plastic bags for produce and bulk items
- Bring your own food containers and utensils when going out to eat
- Carry a reusable water bottle; studies have shown that most tap water is actually cleaner than bottled!
- Pack a waste-free lunch instead of ordering out
- Bring your own coffee cup; many coffee shops will offer you a discount for bringing your own mug, helping you save money while you save the planet!
- Dine in instead of getting takeout
- Say no to disposable straws; if you really need a straw, you can carry around a reusable metal alternative!
- Avoid heavily packaged foods
- Share these tips with friends and family!
People across the world are taking these steps and forgoing plastics this month by participating in #PlasticFreeJuly! Learn more about the initiative here and take the single-use plastics pledge to help break free from plastic!
Here at Clean Water Action Rhode Island, we doing our part to #BreakFreeFromPlastic by launching Clean Water Action's ReThink Disposable program, in which we work with restaurants and others in the food service industry to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic products. The program has had immense success in other states in preventing waste, reducing emissions, and saving money for business owners. Learn more about the program here!