Global Impact, Plastic Pollution, Plastic-Free, Sustainability

10 Mind-blowing facts that prove how harmful plastic is to our planet

Jun 16, 2020
Austin Langlois
Contributing Author
Austin Langlois
Contributing Author

By now, you're probably well aware that single-use plastic has become a huge problem for our planet. But is plastic pollution really as bad as it was a decade ago? Unfortunately, yes, plastic is still polluting our planet at an alarming rate.

Not convinced? We’ve compiled a list of 10 mind-blowing facts that prove how harmful plastic is to our environment. 

1) Plastic is made from petroleum oil, which isn’t sustainable. 
Oil is a nonrenewable fossil fuel that pollutes our air.

2) Making plastic uses a LOT of water. 
According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. That means it takes at least double the amount of water to produce a single-use bottle as the amount of water in the actual bottle.

3) One million plastic water bottles are purchased every single minute across the globe. 
Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of all plastic produced is recycled. 

4) It takes at least 450 years for a single plastic bottle to decompose.
Single-use bottles are usually made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) — a material that photodegrades instead of biodegrading. Even when bottles break down through photodegradation, tiny pieces of microplastic are left behind which can reach critical drinking sources and harm wildlife.

5) Half of all plastic in the world today was produced in the last 15 years.
Eight states have already banned single-use plastic bags in retail stores, but the amount of plastic expected to be produced in 2050 is still 3.5 times the amount that was produced in 2015.

6) Plastic production isn’t slowing down, but our landfills are filling up.
In 2017 alone, 26.8 million tons of plastic pollution was dumped into landfills. Landfills across the U.S. are filling up and running low on additional space.

7) If everyone switched to reusable bottles and carton water, we’d save enough energy to power New York City for an entire month.
Production of plastic bottles is drastically worse on our ozone.

8) Every minute, a garbage truck's worth of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean.
Oceana estimates that 17.6 billion pounds of plastic enter our oceans annually.

9) By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight), according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The New Plastics Economy report which was released back in 2016.

10) Scientists have found Bisphenol A (BPA) in more than 90 percent of Americans tested.
BPA is a chemical compound that’s used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics. They’re found in everything from computers and food containers to water bottles and food cans. When the chemical bonds deteriorate, BPA is released and can leach into your food and water.

So, the next time you reach for a plastic water bottle, plastic bag or plastic wrap, think again. Is there a better, more sustainable option? (Tip: It's not aluminum cans!) Every small act to help the environment counts.

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