Environmental journalist Sharon Guynup examines the impact of plastic inundating our world and bodies – and what we can do about it:
“The world's oceans are awash in plastic junk. With some 46,000 pieces of plastic afloat on each square mile of the sea, every creature in the marine food web is consuming degraded, nearly indestructible, bite-sized “mermaid's tears.”
Plastic debris kills some 100,000 whales, dolphins and other marine mammals and two million birds each year, says the Ocean Conservancy. Untold numbers of sea turtles choke on floating plastic bags they mistake for jellyfish, a favorite food.
But plastics also threaten human health: the ubiquitous presence of these petroleum-based polymers has altered our body chemistry. Most of us carry plastic chemicals in our tissues. Our children often carry higher concentrations.
Individually we can all make a difference. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and science advisor to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, challenges us to examine our weekly “plastic footprint.”
It’s easy to reduce that footprint, he says. Say no to Styrofoam, single-use plastic bottles, bags, straws, to-go containers and razors. Shop with a reusable bag. Carry your own stainless steel water bottle and coffee mug. Buy in bulk and choose products with minimal or recycled packaging. Reuse glass and stainless steel containers. Recycle the rest.
Pass on toys, baby items, electronics, and more through Freecycle or Goodwill. Buy less plastic: Choose durable products and maintain them.”