Why Go Zero- Waste?
So, you’ve heard about the zero-waste movement huh? You’ve seen the trendy mason jar Instagram photos, the sad Facebook video of the sea turtle with a straw shoved up its poor nose and heard all about the garbage patches collecting in our oceans to know that something needs to be done. Well my friend, you've picked the right place to start. Yet, before you start this amazing process (and let me tell you it is a process) It helps to know some basic facts so that you can explain to others why you are bringing your fancy reusable coffee mug, straw, [ enter zero waste tool of choice].
Let's talk numbers
First, some sickening idea of how MUCH plastic is on our big beautiful earth. Every piece of plastic ever made, still exists today. Let that sink in for a moment. Considering that plastic gained major popularity in the 60’s that is 58 years of single use plastic. Americans ALONE use 35 billion plastic water bottles, which takes 72 billion gallons of water and 24 billion gallons of oil to produce. Additionally, Americans use 500 MILLION plastic straws daily, and on average 1,200 plastic bags yearly. That being the case, the US only makes up 5% of the global population however it is generating 30% of the worlds garbage, and all this waste costs more than $100 billion annually to deal with. Regarding the world's plastic consumption, globally plastic consumption has increased to 100 million tons versus the 5 million tons recorded in the 1950s.
(Photo: Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images)
How much trash is in ocean and why is that important?
Now that you have a few numbers of how MUCH single use plastic is being used let’s go through how this affects the earth's life line: the ocean. The ocean makes up 72% of this planet and provides half of the worlds oxygen. You may only think of buttered crab legs, or clam chowder, and while the ocean provides a seemingly abundance of food, seafood is not the ocean’s only job. The ocean absorbs greenhouse gases, is an integral part of the water cycle and largely controls the earth's temperature and weather by both absorbing and distributing heat. In short, the ocean is pretty damn important.
12 million tons of plastic enters oceans every year. First and foremost, how exactly does all this plastic get into the ocean in the first place? The wind blows trash around which can get into a body of water until it reaches the ocean. Additionally, littering, the use of microbeads in skin care products that go down the drain, and industrial leakage are all responsible for this major headache. Feeling overwhelmed yet? The sheer amount of plastic making its way and collecting in the ocean is scary enough, but the nightmare doesn't end there. Oh no, because all these plastic bottles, bags, Legos, straws etc.… don’t ever break down-- rather than break OFF into smaller and smaller plastic pieces called microplastic (cue thunder). This atrocity is giving environmentalist, and Eco- conscious enthusiast a heart attack. There is more microplastic in our oceans then stars in our galaxy, and one plastic water bottle can break off and end up on every mile of beach in every continent. I’ll cover more on microplastic later (it deserves its own blog post!) , but that gives you a base for now.
With all this information it can be daunting, stressful, and easy to lose hope. Fortunately, a shift is happening, and people are learning the truth, more individuals are doing their part to innovate, educate, and ultimately change how we view and handle single use plastic waste. Our hope here at ZippNada is to support you on your journey and provide the tools, encouragement, and information to make informed, conscious, and ethical decisions about the environment. I wish to leave you with an amazing quote by Kouzes and Posener this principle that can be applied anywhere in one's life, “Planting one tree won’t stop global warming, but planting one million trees can make a difference. It's the first tree that gets things started”.