Have you ever noticed how much plastic is being used in today’s society? We all know the plastic bag, full of plastic bags, or the containers that deli-meats come in, which we naturally want to use as tupperware. Next time you’re out grocery shopping pay attention to how much of the food is wrapped or contained in plastic. The amount of plastic manufactured in the first ten years of this century will approach the total produced in the entire last century.  What if i told you that the amount of plastic being used is not only taking up space, but destroying everything in its’ path? Both the environment and those who inhabit it are tremendously effected by just the existence of plastic. In New York alone, people throw out almost 2,000 tons of plastic bags each week. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that Americans discard 100 billion plastic bags each year. People are in a fast-paced society constantly looking for convenience but that generates waste. This waste has no where to go, other than giant landfills in poor neighborhoods, and in our oceans. Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater. Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, and disrupts habitats. Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife. Birds, fish, whales and many more are dying of starvation because their bodies can’t digest plastic.  Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects. “One very common hormone-disrupting chemical being Bisphenol A (BPA). Food packaging is the largest source of exposure to BPA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found it in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans sampled. In 2009, tests commissioned by EWG were the first to find BPA in the umbilical cords of nine of 10 infants sampled.” (Knoblauch, 2009). Studies suggest that BPA bonds with estrogen receptors (ER) in humans and are linked to early puberty, obesity, developmental disorders, and cardiovascular disease. In addition to individual research and understanding of how plastic has effected you, it is now detrimentally important for everyone to be proactive for the sake of our future. Thankfully, as a nation we’ve begun to reevaluate the conveniency of plastic due to recent studies and innovate different ways to recycle plastic material.

 

References:

Knoblauch, Jessica A. (http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic, 2009)

Photo Credit: avaaz.org

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